From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, July 12, 2010

James Wilkins, Revolutionary War Veteran

Pioneer of Todd County, KY

Twilight falls on a small family graveyard
in Todd County, northeast of  Fairview, KY.

Around Christian County, we have many neglected old family graveyards. As time passes, the tombstones face many perils. Often, they are vandalized, pulled over by gravity, heaved out of the ground by frost, or damaged by tree roots, fallen branches, and toppled tree trunks.

I understand that people grow old or become ill, and sometimes, they are not physically able to provide the upkeep a cemetery needs or financially able to pay someone else to do it. And I understand that sometimes every member of the family died or moved away, long, long ago.

But I don't understand neglected cemeteries when younger, perfectly healthy members of those families live right in the neighborhood. I have a hard time respecting people when I know their family graveyards haven't seen any care for decades. Honestly, I'd be ashamed if I didn't try to keep the trees and brush down in my ancestral burying grounds, just a mile or two from where I live -- especially when those old tombstones have my own last name on them.

Feeling as I do about it, I'm always happy to see an old graveyard that does receive some caretaking. The little family plot in the photo is located near Fairview, KY. It  is the final resting place of James Wilkins, a Revolutionary War Veteran, who was an early settler of Todd County, KY, his wife Elizabeth White Wilkins, and several other family members.

Someone mows this little graveyard and keeps the stones standing. And someone has done the paperwork to get Mr. Wilkins a new gravestone from the Veterans Administration.

Who was James Wilkins?
About 1805, James Wilkins came to the [Fairview] district from North Carolina, and located about a mile and a half north of [Edward] Shanklin, where he remained until his death in 1836. Of his four sons and three daughters, four are now living here -- William G., Harriet Rolston, Lucinda J. Brown and Matilda Tilman.

Quoted from Counties of Todd and Christian, Kentucky: Historical and Biographical (p. 188), edited by J. H. Battle and W. H. Perrin, and published in 1884 by F. A. Battey Publishing Co., Chicago and Louisville.

In the Christian County history book of 1991, I found that James Wilkins was held on a prisoner of war ship in the Charleston (S.C.) harbor by the British, during the Revolutionary War. You can read more about James Wilkins' war experiences at the Kentucky Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.