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.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Winner of the "Most Colorful Ancestor" Award

Robert Henry Vining (1848-1888)


Robert Henry Vining was my great-great grand-uncle on my dad's side of the family -- a  younger brother of my great-great grandmother Martha Alameda (Vining) Mapes. Henry's parents moved from Pennsylvania to Henry County, Illinois, in the 1840s, and Henry was born there in 1848. He spent his boyhood years on the family farm on the Illinois prairie.

Kennesaw's Bombardment '64
Sketch by war correspondent Alfred Waud
In 1864, at the age of 16, Henry enlisted as a Union soldier (Company H, Illinois 112th Infantry Regiment). He lost a leg in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain near Marietta, Georgia, and was discharged in 1865.

Henry Vining came to Republic County, Kansas, in 1868, and settled in the Elk Creek valley along with Ashbel Mapes (Ashbel was Henry's brother-in-law and my great-great grandfather), three Willoughby brothers, and William Oliver. All of these men were relatives or connected by marriage. They and their families were among the first white settlers of the Elk Creek area.

Henry was a member of the Salt Creek Militia that was formed in 1868 to protect Republic County settlers from the Indians. He also served as the Republic County sheriff that year.  On January 1, 1869, he married Martha Oliver -- the first marriage in Republic County, Kansas.

Henry's missing leg didn't slow him down too much. He was proud that he had given a leg in the service of his country. People called him Peggy, because he had a peg leg.  He served as a marshal in the little communities of Clyde and Concordia, Kansas, during the 1870s. Later, he was the manager of the Western Detective Agency of Clyde (a bounty hunter?), and he also ran a saloon in Clyde which was destroyed in a business district fire on January 25, 1881. (See Belleville Telescope p. 3, Feb. 3, 1881)

In June of 1881, Henry got into a bad fight. Apparently he and the schoolmaster in Clyde had already disagreed about something. Then, the schoolmaster slapped Henry's son on the ear for fighting with another boy. Henry found the schoolmaster in a store and, after an exchange of words, gave him a punch that knocked him to the floor. The schoolmaster knocked or kicked Henry down, and they scuffled.

The schoolmaster might have won the fight, being wiry and more agile with his two legs, but Henry pulled a gun. It misfired the first time, and the second shot went into a trunk. The schoolmaster abandoned the fight and rode to the county seat to file a complaint with the marshal. Henry was arrested and charged with "assault with intent to kill". I don't know what happened after that, but I'm very curious.

The editor of the Clyde Democrat, who also happened to be the schoolmaster's friend and roommate, wrote a sensational newspaper account of the above event (See "A Murderous Assault," Belleville Telescope, p. 2, June 16, 1881) .  He stated that Henry Vining was a drunkard, which may or may not have been true. The report is clearly slanted in favor of the schoolmaster -- perhaps rightfully so.

Henry Vining seems to have been well-liked by most people and was well-known in the area, so I suspect that the charges were eventually dropped, or that he was not convicted, or that if he was convicted, the sentence was light. That's just my hunch, not a proven fact. I'm still researching -- I'd love to know the rest of the story!

The Clyde Democrat ceased publication in mid-1882. I think the editor probably left Clyde at that time, and probably his friend, the schoolmaster, left too.

Henry Vining died unexpectedly in 1888 at the young age of 40. He had an agreement with his long-time friend and fellow veteran Jacob Sohlinger that, if one of them died, the other would see that he was laid to rest, wrapped in the flag. Jacob Sohlinger kept his promise, and Henry Vining went to his grave embraced by the flag and declaring his patriotism to the end.

US Flag with 38 stars.
In use 4 July 1877–3 July 1890.

This article was written by Genevieve L. Netz and originally published as a blog post at http://prairiebluestem.blogspot.com/2011/11/winner-of-most-colorful-ancestor-award.html . Copyright 2012 Genevieve L. Netz. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for attaching this article to Vining family trees as long as this entire notice is included. Any other use requires written permission. gnetz51@gmail.com .

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Order Amish Tractor and Wagon

Family transportation



I suppose I've posted a dozen photographs of Mennonite buggies on this blog, but this is my very first photo of a New Order Amish tractor and wagon. We see these rigs around Guthrie and Crofton, Kentucky, where we have thriving New Order Amish communities.

I saw the tractor and wagon above at a restaurant in Hopkinsville. The owners probably drove in from Crofton to pick up farm supplies and to shop at WalMart (which is just a short distance from this restaurant.)

The man of the family drives the tractor, and the passengers ride in the wagon along with any freight. The wagon is always made from the back-end of an old pickup truck.

Around Guthrie and Elkton in Todd County, I've occasionally seen tractors with a man and woman riding together in the cab. I've even seen a woman driving a tractor down the road, with a couple of small children in the cab. However, I've never seen a woman driving a tractor that was pulling a wagon.

The use of the tractor, the use of normal tires on the tractor, and the use of the tractor on the road are some of the practices that distinguish New Order Amish from other Amish groups. The New Order Amish around this area have gone a step farther in permitting the use of the tractor to make short trips.

The basis for the various restrictions on tractor use is explained by Donald Kraybill and Marc Alan Olshan in The Amish Struggle with Modernity.  In The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald Kraybill relates the history of the New Order split from the Old Order. Tractor use is just one of many differences between the major Amish groups, but with the New Order Amish, it's one of the most visible differences.

Related:
Cultural Change and Survival in Amish Society, a paper by Brian Lande for his class, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Don't forget

Bad grammar, great message



I'm really not looking forward to the time change, but the extra hour of sleep will be nice.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Autumn Images

Seen in Christian County, KY



There's plenty of time to take a picture, when following a buggy uphill. They are extremely slow, but I never pass them on a hill, even if I'm in a terrible hurry. I figure that it's better to be a few minutes late than to risk a collision. However, I often see impatient drivers who pass without a clue of what's coming in the other lane.


Tobacco is curing in the barns of Christian County, KY. This old barn, built right beside a back road, is always closed tight, with a "No Trespassing" sign on the doors. When I drove by last week, I was surprised to see its doors opened wide.


This clump of trees in the middle of a Christian County field probably marks an old family graveyard. It's sad that so many old cemeteries receive no care at all, but when the families are unavailable, unable, or uninterested, the burden of upkeep falls on the landowner. Most farmers adopt an attitude of benign neglect, and nature takes its course.


Autumn color in Hopkinsville (KY). Some people around the county have reported heavy frost, but we haven't had a killing frost at our house yet. I still have impatiens blooming, though their days are surely numbered.


And who's that crowding into the picture with the impatiens? Why, it's Sophie, of course, doing her best to be the center of attention. I'm in the process of building an elaborate doghouse for her. It has two rooms, and it's better insulated than our house is! I am not a very fast carpenter, so it's still going to require a couple more days of work. And it's so heavy that I'm thinking we might put it in the truck and drive it to the carport, instead of trying to carry it.
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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.