Heart of a Southern Woman

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W. Thomas Houchins, An Ancestor Gone Wrong –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #34

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MOD, lover's Leap

Patrick County, Virginia, photo by Helen Y. Holshouser

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’ve written about many incredibly talented individuals with brilliant minds, and great leadership  qualities. However, in every family, there are a few members you don’t hear about.  That’s a good description of my great Uncle Tom Houchins. As a child, I knew all my great aunts and uncles who were Houchins, my mother’s mother’s family, who were also the children of Evelyn Langhorne–from a wealthy and influential family in Virginia before the Civil War. At least I thought I knew them!  I was in my late teens before I realized that there was another Great Uncle I had never heard of! He lived in Florida while we lived in Virginia, so it was easy to keep him unknown to young kids growing up. What amazes me is that my Mom  was one of six sisters who were very close, and very family oriented. They kept up with their own Aunts and Uncles, and therefore we knew them and our cousins as well! How could it be, that I learned as an adult that we had this petty criminal , irresponsible playboy, and business success all wrapped up in one, in our own family! Kudos Mom, as a mom of the 1950’s, you did your job of “sheltering the children” well!  In recent years, of course, I’ve  talked with my cousins as adults, and we realize our mothers were all aware of our great Uncle Tom’s exploits, but none of them told us–talk about a code of silence (!) and he wasn’t an axe murder or anything! Want to know just what he did do?

Some of it is almost funny, some is sad, some terrible! Take your pick, because you are the only judge. Thomas,  was born William Thomas Houchins 14 June, 1890, in Patrick County,Virginia, a beautiful,  mountainous area of Southwest Virginia. On the 1900 Census we can see the whole family intact for the very last time. Little did they know when the census was taken in June of 1900, that by October, their loving mother, aged 34, would be dead, and their father would leave them for another woman and to start a new family!  Four more months of oblivious childhood–then the reality of a hard life, a different life would set in! They had lived at one time with their grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne. But he was not well, was blind, and would die within three years as well, so what were these children to do?! You can see on the census, six living children out of nine, as their mother died birthing twins in Oct.1900. (see blog post re. Evelyn here)  Another sister,Virginia Myrtle had died at age 2, about six years earlier. Katie, their oldest child and daughter at age 16 was my grandmother. Was she panicked when her mother died and her father left? Grief stricken I’m sure!  Her sister Julia was 15, Harry was only 13, but would be blind with the family disease by 17. Then there is Wm.Thomas, our  subject of this blog, at the tender age of 9, days before his tenth birthday! His whole world was going to come crashing down around his head! There were two little boys, John and Guy, ages 4 and 3 respectively, did they even remember being a family?

Houchins and Langhorne, Eve, 1900 Census, all family

1900 Census : Souce, Ancestry.com

I knew three of them fairly well. My grandmother died before I was born unfortunately,  and Guy died when I was only five. (now I know all of their descendants, my siblings and cousins! )  Great Uncle John and his wife Aunt Josephine lived in Staunton, Virginia where she taught at the school for the deaf. I remember visiting them often as a child. Uncle John was always mannerly and kind to me. Great Uncle Harry was blind when I  knew him, but he would come see us and stay for days. He would sit out on our front porch and play his banjo and sing!  I would sit at his feet and beg him to play more! more, more! Great Aunt Julia lived in Richmond where we did and we saw her often. When her grandson Billy Pat, who was just my age came to visit, I would get so excited! We would swim, and play and just got along famously. Aunt Julia herself was a lawyer–the first female ast. district attorney in the state of Va. Sometimes she scared me to death! She could freeze you with one look! LOL I’m sure that served her well in the courtroom! In actuality, she was a sweet, kind woman who would do anything for family.  I never knew my Great Uncle Tom existed, until 1966 or 7, when I was a Junior or Senior in highschool. That summer my parents went to visit him and took my younger brother with them! My brother would have been about 12 probably. While I was shocked to learn I had another great uncle alive and successful in Florida, I paid little attention. You see, this was the first time I was allowed to stay home alone with my older brother and sister while our parents were gone away for a week! A week! We had a ball, and thought little of whom they were visiting , I’m sorry to say! I now know my uncle was dying. I suspect Mom knew, and wanted to visit him one last time!  So sad to have been an oblivious teenager! He died in 1968, with no children, but an interesting life.

Thomas was 10 when his mother died. A wealthy close cousin,, Lady Astor, Nancy Langhorne, swoooped in and sent him to military school to continue his growing up! You’d think that would do it! On the 1910 census, taken on April 16, we can see that he is enrolled as a Major in the army and is stationed at Fort Myer Military Reservation in Alexandria, Virginia. He is listed as 23 and single on the census.  Did he lie, or is that a typo? We know that  in April of  1910, he would have been only 19, turning twenty that June! We are also told by family members that he had married one Martina Ruth Bowie on January 11, 1910, when they were both 19 years old!  Then we find the US Army Register of Enlistments where we find that Thomas was dishonorably discharged on October 26, 1911. Oh my gracious!

The only way to fill the years in between 1910 and 1930 when our couple is found in Chicago, is to listen to family stories. Thomas’s niece, the famous Mary Stuart of TV fame, wrote about him in her memoirs, Both of Me. She says he was known to have “shot a revenuer”  in the mountains of Virginia and that he joined the army to escape punishment! He would have been a teenager, home from military school, where would he have been living? So, he joins the army and we find him there in 1910. He also gets married that year. We are told in the family, that he deserts the army and heads off to who knows where, but wait, his wife is not with him. Apparently he is going to meet her, when he gets drunk, and marries another woman, becoming a bigamist! All before he is 20! This kid is in trouble–shooting, desertion from the army, now bigamy!

But he has an ace up his sleeve! He has a loving sister who is an attorney! And sure enough, his sister, only 5 years older, but married and living in Richmond, Va. by then, a ripe old age of 25, comes to his rescue! My Great Aunt Julia  helps him annul his bigamist marriage, she works with the army to get him his dishonorable discharge with no prison time,  and it seems there were no charges pending from the rumor that he “shot a revenuer”!  My suspicion is that this older and wiser sister of his also gave him her famous glare, and told him to grow up and fly right–did he?

The next census I can find, 1930,  shows my great Uncle Thomas living in Chicago, with his wife Lillian–in fact, they are listed as Thomas and Lilian Anglin, not W.Thomas Houchins and Martina Bowie, his wife! Wow! I would never have found them of course, except for family stories, not given by any of the sisters, but pieced together through the cousins when we were all over 50 and our mothers were gone! They took these secrets to their graves!

I learned that indeed, they changed their names, legally or not I do not know, but I doubt it..and there is more to the story! What name did he choose? Thomas Smith, or Jones, oh no — Anglin–Thomas Anglin–how sad! Thomas Anglin was his first cousin who lived in Oklahoma! The real Thomas Anglin was a State Senator there in fact–another of the good guys! The real Thomas Anglin  was the son of Pocahontas Houchins and her husband John B. Anglin, also from Patrick County, Virginia, who had moved to Oklahoma. I wonder if he knew? I wonder if our Aunt Pokey knew when  she died in 1927! Wouldn’t she have been furious at her nephew, her brother’s son, a criminal –that he would dare to take her famous son’s name! Can you imagine the family feuds that might have erupted! No Thanksgiving Dinner family gatherings for them! Apparently, it never happened!  Our Thomas Anglin and wife Lilian  lived peacefully and prosperously it appears! By the 1940 census, we find him and Lilian living in Dade County Florida, in Coral Gables! This is where my Mom, Dad, and brother visited him in the late 1960’s! They had a business school there that they owned, and apparently it was very successful! “Buyer Beware” rings in my ears! Of course,  we didn’t have computers  in the  years when he was alive. I understand that their school had a great reputation! He and Lilian never had children. I wonder , did they feel guilty; live in fear of being discovered?  It’s hard to believe–in the midst of attorneys, State Senators (in Virginia as well), actual revenue agents hunting moonshine stills, educators, and so on, how do you get one like this?  You could say he was  scared by his mother’s death and his father’s desertion at his age 10, that he was hurt severely, and perhaps so. It may be that something happened in military school to a young boy of 10–18–that’s a tough way to grow up! However, his brothers and sisters did just fine it seems. We will never know, but wow–what a discovery of a sad and eccentric member of our family! What a journey he had.

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Margaret Steptoe Kerse Youngblood, My Mother, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #33

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Kerse, Margaret Steptoe

Margaret Steptoe Kerse Youngblood

Kerse sisters at Nancy's wedding

Five sisters participate in their sister Nancy’s wedding to Bob Guthrie in 1943. He was a pilot and was killed over France in WWII. l to r, Katherine Kerse Buck with husband Roger next to her.The next two adults are Guthries, she is Cilla Guthrie, sister of the Groom. The child is the flower girl, Claudia Burnett Williamson, daughter of Julia Louise Kerse Burnett standing with her. In the middle you see the bride Nancy Langhorne Kerse and her husband Bob Guthrie. Next is Margaret Steptoe Kerse Youngblood, with an unknown man next to her. The last sister shown is Janey Bell Kerse Sommers, and behind her on the end is Cecil Hogue Youngblood, Margaret’s husband, my father.

Kerse Sisters, improved picture

l to r, Katherine Langhorne Kerse Buck, Julia Louise Kerse Burnett, Evelyn L. Kerse Anderson, Janey Bell Kerse Sommers, Nancy Langhorne Kerse Goodell and last is Margaret Steptoe Kerse Youngblood

My mother, Margaret Steptoe Kerse (pronounced Kearse) was born February 21, 1918.  She was the fourth of seven children born to Thomas (Tom) Philip Kerse and Katherine (Kate) Steptoe Houchins. Kate was a nurse in a time when women traditionally did not have careers. Tom was an Irish Police Officer like his father. Both came from wealthy families at one time.  In the beginning of the marriage, Tom had a gentleman’s gentleman to care for him. The family always had a cook and nanny to care for the children. They had a small yacht called The Lady Jane from which they swam and had their friends over for parties. Their father and grandfather held tours and dinner excursions on the Lady Jane to raise money for charities in the Richmond area where they lived. You might enjoy a blog post about the Lady Jane written earlier, by clicking on this link. 

Lady Jane, boat belonging to Thomas P.Kerse

The Lady Jane

Mom was only four years old when a tragedy, her first (her mother’s fourth or fifth) hit the family! Mom’s older brother Bucky (Thomas Phillip Kerse Jr.) drowned in the James River!  He was only eight years old, and Mom was half his age! She remembered it well however, and talked about it her whole life, so we knew it was a defining moment for her. Because of his drowning, she made sure we were all excellent swimmers, and she never let us go down to the James River, so close to our house, without adult supervision! That was her strictest, and one of her few rules!  You can read the story of  Bucky’s drowning in this blog post if you’d like. Mom’s mother Kate, my grandmother, was only 10 when her own little sister died. She was seven when their family home burned to the ground!  Kate was 17, with five younger living siblings, when her mother, Evaline Langhorne, died in childbirth, and her father deserted the family to create another one. She must have been a strong woman, to have become a nurse while living with relatives, her siblings scattered, living in a city 300 or more miles from her beautiful mountain home where she was reared, in Patrick County, Virginia. These were the life experiences she brought to her own family, my mother and her siblings! 

Mom and her sisters attended Catholic schools and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church where the whole family was involved. Mom used to say that one or the other of the seven of them was often in trouble, and had to kneel and pray for repentance so often that their Mom sewed kneeling pads inside their skirts so that their knees wouldn’t get so sore! 

The depression hit in 1929 and my grandparents lost all their money, yet had to take care of their children!  In January 1930, more tragedy hit the family. My grandmother Kate was shot in the head by one of her patients! He had been in a coma, and upon regaining consciousness, he thought she was the enemy, or that she was going to hurt  him, and he grabbed a gun, one long in the room that no one knew was loaded. He shot my grandmother, then he died a few hours later, not knowing what he had done undoubtedly!  But the family suffered, she didn’t die, but was forever maimed, not quite herself as the inoperable bullet affected her speech and thinking ability. My mother was 12 years old when this happened! Gracious!  If we think of the time line of Mom’s life, age 4 her brother dies, age 11 her family loses money in the depression, and by age 12 her mother is shot and brain damaged. I am not sure just what was going on with her father during all of this, we heard little about him when we were growing up, even under direct questioning! I got the impression that he was pretty much absent, at least emotionally, and the second oldest sister, Katherine, aged 14 when her mother was shot, apparently took over the mothering/management duties for her four younger sisters. With all this adversity, the family could have been totally disrupted, instead, the sisters grew closer! You can see in the pictures above, they were often together. That continued all of their lives, so that their children, us first cousins, grew close also.

With this childhood in mind, what do you think my mother’s adult life might be like? Mother and her sisters were all intelligent women. Three of the five sisters finished college, Mom attended college for two years, She did not finish for various reasons, lack of money, war was looming on the horizon, and it may not have seemed that important at the time, although education was always important to her philosophically. I remember when she died and I was thirty, only a couple months from graduating with my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, I was devastated hat she died before I finished, because I knew how much it meant to her! My sister also earned a Master’s degree in Reading and Education, like Mom and her sisters; we were determined to be able to make a living. 

Mom was 21 when her father died, I’m sure that affected her concentration at school, and probably made her think she needed to be at home taking care of her Mom. I wish I had realized all of this growing up, I’d love to have talked with Mom about it. Somewhere between their father and mother’s deaths, the family sold the yacht to a local judge, and they all left the Catholic Church! Leaving the church must have been a momentous decision! I did ask my mother about this a time or two, and she always said she told my Dad that she would become a Methodist like he was, if he promised to go to church every Sunday and to raise his children in the church! He must have taken that seriously, because that is exactly how we were raised! There is only one question, it just so happens that I realize now that Mom and her sisters left the Catholic Church earlier for the Presbyterian Church just down the street from where they lived. Was this due to the influence of teenaged friends, convenience, a crisis of faith?  (That would certainly be understandable!) Just after her father died in 1939, Mom met and married my father, and my older sister was born in 1942, just before her Mother died in 1943.  One would think she had her new husband for support when her mother died, but unfortunately he had already joined the army preparing for WWII duty. She had a new baby, and shared an apartment with some of her sisters whose husbands were off at war themselves. They were together when their sister Nancy’s husband was shot down in his plane over France and killed. 

Mom showed what a strong woman she was all her years. She went out and got a job, using the typing and business skills she’d learned in college. Mom made sure her daughters could type as well, so that we would be prepared to get a job if need be.  She typed well, fast, and accurately.  She typed her way right into the mortgage business, ended up getting her real estate license, and had a successful career in realty and mortgage. From age 24 to age 37 she had four children, two girls and two boys. We would have run her ragged, except when Dad came home from the war, they moved in with his mother who had recently lost her own husband. Grandma stayed home with us kids once we were in school, so that Mom could work. Mom was a rare breed, a true career woman in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s! 

When I was a young child, b. in 1949, Mom always walked about two miles back and forth to catch a bus to work –sometimes we walked with her! When she was 36, my sister was 12, my brother 8, and I was 6. My younger brother had not been born yet! Thirty- six and she finally learned to drive a car! She surprised us all when she bought her own car after passing her driver’s test! I remember, it was an old, rounded, 1954 Chevy, brand new at the time of course! She was so proud of that car, and my older sister was so proud of her!  We lived on a hill, so our driveway was steep. One afternoon, a neighbor named Nancy and I both got in the car to wait for Mom to take us to Brownie Scouts! We must have been playing around and knocked off the emergency brake or something, because suddenly the car was rolling backwards down the hill! At that time, there was nothing across the street but woods and a creek. I remember that Nancy and I both jumped out of the car, and ran into the house screaming, “Momma, Momma, the car is rolling backwards down the hill! Momma, momma…!” LOL By the time we all got outside, of course, it was across the street, in the woods, all the way into the creek! Her new car!  LOL  Mom didn’t fuss at us, didn’t cry, just said something about being more careful and not being in the car without her! 

Mom was very creative and playful when she had the chance. She and my Dad played bridge every week with different friends. She created doll clothes, and played cards with us. My sister remembers how she loved to make special treats for the neighbor children at Halloween! She would dress up in a costume to deliver the treats at the door as well. I have pictures of her in a Halloween costume with my older daughter Ali. Unfortunately, she had passed away before my youngest was born. We loved hanging out with Mom, because she was fun! 

Ali age 4 , 1978, Halloween with Grandma Margaret

Ali Holshouser age 4 with Grandma Margaret Kerse Youngblood, 1978, Halloween

I remember that sometimes we would find Mom up alone, in the middle of the night, just sitting in the dark and quiet. I asked her once why she did this, and she said she was “practicing for when I am an old lady and blind!”–thus walking around in the dark!  I now suspect she was seeking some alone time in a household with 7 people including 4 children, a demanding husband, and a mother-in-law! During my genealogical reseach I have also learned that there was an inherited disease that caused blindness that ran in her side of the family. Retinitis Pigmentosa had blinded 15 people in earlier generations! 

Unfortunately, when Mom was just 50 years old, she had a severe heart attack, I ended up doing the same when I was 50–not the inheritance I wanted! My sister had gotten married a couple years before Mom got sick, my brother one year before, and I was a sophmore in college. My younger brother was only 12. Mom had to quit work, and quit driving, and had her wings severely clipped. It hit my youngest brother the hardest of course since he was still at home! She lived for 12 years however, dying at age 62, after nine more heart attacks! 

Mother was highly respected and liked by her boses, coworkers, neighbors, and those at church. She was friendly and always tried to help others.  She was a natural born leader who taught Sunday school, organized Bible School for the children, and generally took care of everyone and everything. In fact, she served as Superintendant of Sunday Schools at our church for many years! She also had liberal leanings politically, and taught her daughters to follow along through modeling. She worked at the polls because she believed in the right to vote so strongly. She also believed in Civil Rights for people of different races long before it was a popular subject. She believed it was important to take care of those who were poor, who had less than you. She thought it was a sin to have money in your pocket if another person was going hungry. I try to be like that today. Mother put her beliefs into action, cosigning loans for people who needed help buying a house or car. Delivering food and clothes, she was a busy woman. She was a free thinker, very open minded, and almost a bit bohemian.  When she died, the church was full of mourners singing her praises. We heard story after story of how she had helped someone or another, how she had changed their lives for the better! The church even placed a stained glass window in her honor in the women’s Sunday School Class! What an honor! 

Obviously  I loved Mom dearly, she was individualistic and special. We were lucky to have her! 

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Spangler, Mary Josephine-Poet in the Shadows of Her Famous Husband and Brothers—52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, #32

MOD, lover's LeapMary Josephine Spangler lived from the 14th of September, 1887- until the 7th of March, 1970. I would have been 21 the week after she died. Plenty old enough to have taken the chance to know her and some of my first cousins, 2x removed who lived in the mountains of Virginia, while I lived in Richmond, Va. –but I did not know of them! How sad! These were the children of my great grandmother’s children! She had died in 1900, they came along about 1882- 1892,  my grandmother’s first cousins. My grandmother, who knew them, died before I was born in 1949. Home from the war, four children and a mother to care for, my Dad was busy keeping up with his own 3 sibling’s families and my Mom worked full time (unusual for women of the 1950’s) and was busy keeping up with her five sisters and all of our cousins there! We had a full life, so we didn’t realize what we were missing! Fast forward 65 years, and here we have our first joint family reunion, with two families of my great-grandmother, descendants of two sisters: Fannie and Evelyn Langhorne. How exciting! We discovered a lot to love about each other, a lot we had in common, and some differences. We left the reunion, wanting more!

Fannie and Evelyn were two of nine children of James Steptoe Langhorne and Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro. Evelyn married Walter Thomas Houchins and had nine children of her own, with three dying in childbirth or early childhood. Fannie married Wallace Wolford Spangler and had six children with him. There were lots of cousins in our huge family!

Spanglers and Vippermans, 1915, may 16.

With stars in the family like the Spangler musicians– John Watts Spangler called “Babe” and dubbed the “Old Virginia Fiddler”; Dudley Spangler, also a recording star fiddler called “Babe”; Charles Langhorne, Tump, a fiddler and a state legislator—it’s easy to see, why a quieter, female, sister, Mary Josephine Spangler, who was a poet, might get little attention! After all, she was busy raising four children of her own, while her well-known husband Dudley played and sang for the masses! At our Langhorne family reunion, I had the absolute joy to see and get to know three of her children!  They are Margie Spangler Cartwright-92, William Wallace Spangler, 91, and Bernice Spangler Irvin, 84. They are all full of enthusiasm, knowledge, and generosity! They brought recordings of their Dad and Uncle Babe singing and playing for us to hear, which was wonderful! But they brought a special treat as well. They brought poetry with them, poetry that their mother had written and poetry that Margie had written and made into a song! I hope to share that with you in another post.

This is a poem by their mother, Mary Josephine. It is called simply, “Mayberry Virginia”. There is a true community nearby called Mayberry, where life was very simple in the early days. It is in fact, where Andy Griffith first visited and got his idea for the name Mayberry for the small town of his television show.  In this way, and in others, this poem is a marker of history, and shows that Mary Josephine was paying close attention to current events when she wrote it in the 1930’s. You see, the poem is also about the coming of the Blue Ridge Parkway to that area of Virginia. President Roosevelt and Congress approved the building of the Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina to provide a scenic trail for sure, but also to put hundreds, even thousands to work as the country was recovering from the depression. Work in Virginia started in 1936. The very end of the poem refers to an electric dam, and to Danville. One of our Langhorne cousins, Lucy Lea Rudd, shared with me that the Dams her Aunt Josie was speaking of are on the Dan River and were built in the 1930’s. They are in a canyon that runs from Vesta, south of Meadows of Dan, and Mayberry. Lucy said  that her father worked on them, which is why she knew they were built in the ’30’s.  How’s that for a bit of eye- witness history! Thank you Lucy Rudd! T he dams are owned by the city of Danville according to Lucy, and people have to have permission to go down to them. Mary Josephine knew all of this, and put it in  a poem! Well done my cousin!

 

“Mayberry Virginia” ©

 by Mary Josephine Spangler, in the second part of the 1930’s,

 

National-Park-Guide-NCs-Blue-Ridge-Parkway-PH1RIU63-x-large

National-Park-Guide-NCs-Blue-Ridge-Parkway-PH1RIU63, ravel.usatoday.com/destinations/story/2012-07-12/National-Park-Guide-North-Carolinas-Blue-Ridge-Parkway/56155918/1

Three cheers for Mayberry Virginia,            

With roads of every kind,

Some go to the east; some go to the west,

And some ore the mountains wind.

 

The scenic highway’s coming,

Room for every soul,

We will not have to push or pull,

Just let the car wheels roll.

 

Blue_Ridge_Parkway, commons.wikimedia.org

Blue_Ridge_Parkway, commons.wikimedia.org

Our cattle will soon by traveling,              

Thru tunnels under ground.

The old jersey cow with the bell on,

Won’t even make a sound.

 

Crossroads will be bridged,            

Up toward the sky so far,

That when the planes fly over,

They’ll wonder what they are.

 

Then when our children start to school,

Underground or overhead,

None at the crossroads,

Will be found hurt or dead.

 

Graves now dot the hilltops,

But there will be no new ones then.

We all will live, I am quite sure,

Three score years and ten.

 

This road will take you to the mill,

That’s just around the bend.

Where buckwheat, corn, and wheat are ground,

Which ere you choose to send.

 

And when the northern tourists come,

That is seeking to get fatter,

We’ll stuff them up on buckwheat cakes,

And let them drink some batter.

 

Cold water is always flowing,

From mountain, hill, or lowland,

So when Miami tourists drink,

They’ll say, “Oh my, ‘tis grand!”

 

The Appalachian Trail comes by,

From Maine, to way down South,

But these tourists rarely stop to drink, no matter rain or drought.

 

Danville will hard surface,

Five miles, it is no sham.

500 men will hit this trail,

And build an electric dam.

 

 

Langhorne Reunion, Meadows of Dan, Virginia, 2014 -a Story in Pictures

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Buck, Spangler and Houchins, Three Cousins who are Geophysicists as Well! –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #31

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This past weekend at the Langhorne Family reunion, I heard wonderful family stories and renewed relationships with many family members I hadn’t seen in years! I am looking forward to sharing some of those stories with you. One of those is about three cousins, all of whom are geophysicists! Two of these cousins are alive and well and were at the reunion, one is deceased, but his daughter was present giving us a glimpse of him I suspect.


I think it is remarkable that we have three geophysicists in our one branch of the Langhorne Family! All three descend from their shared great or 2nd great grandparents– James Steptoe Langhorne and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro. There must have been some strong intellectual genes in that family!

 

A geophysicist is a scientist who studies “the branch of geology that deals with the physics of the earth and its atmosphere, including oceanography, seismology, volcanology, and geomagnetism.” (click for source)

 

In our family, Roger Buck, PhD teaches and leads research at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. This is what Roger says on his profile page for the Institute where he works: “I believe theorists need to get out and see where the data come from. In recent years I have been fortunate to participate in such diverse field work as collecting rock samples for radiometric dating in Egypt and in the Mojave Desert, diving on the Reykjanes Mid-Ocean Ridge in a Russian submersible, and helping with GPS surveys on Iceland.”  Pat Spangler, PhD, is retired from the University of Florida, and thus his title is now Associate Professor Emeritus of Geology. Pat and Roger met for the first time at the Langhorne reunion this past weekend! They have both published extensively and have traveled the world teaching and researching! Their stories of Ethiopia, Australia, and the Pacific Ocean are amazing! Earthquakes! Earthquakes under the ocean!
At the reunion was another cousin from Oklahoma, an attorney in her own right, Sarah Houchins Stuhr. Her Dad, Guy Maurice Houchins Jr. is deceased now, but lo and behold, he is our third geophysicist! He served as a “Geophysical Engineer for Amoco Corporation all of his career. He retired as the Manager of Exploration Systems, responsible for exploration, computer application development, and seismic data processing.” –from a personal letter written by Guy M. Houchins, Jr. July 20, 2004, and provided by his daughter. The way they talk, it sounds like they all pretty much researched similar things, and I stand amazed at their abilities! Along with other family members, they speak well for our ancestors. As the children and grandchildren of sisters, their relationships look like this:

James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne (1822 – 1905)
is your 2nd great-grandfather
Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne (1866 – 1900)
daughter of James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne
Katherine Steptoe Houchins (1883 – 1943)
daughter of Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne
Katherine “Kitty” Elizabeth Langhorne Kerse (1916 – 2005)
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
Walter Roger Buck IV, Ph.D.
You are the son of Katherine “Kitty” Elizabeth Langhorne Kerse

 

James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne (1822 – 1905)

is your great-grandfather

Frances (Fannie) Eunice (blind) Langhorne (1854 – 1936)
daughter of James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne
Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler (1885 – 1983)
son of Frances (Fannie) Eunice (blind) Langhorne
Daniel Patrick Spangler PhD
You are the son of Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler -

 

 

James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne (1822 – 1905)
is your great-grandfather
Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne (1866 – 1900)
daughter of James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne
Guy Maurice Houchins (1897 – 1954)
son of Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne
Guy Maurice Houchins Jr.
You are the son of Guy Maurice Houchins

 

 

Daniel Patrick Spangler PhD (1934 – )
is your 2nd cousin 1x removed
Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler (1885 – 1983)
father of Daniel Patrick Spangler PhD
Frances (Fannie) Eunice (blind) Langhorne (1854 – 1936)
mother of Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler
James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne (1822 – 1905)
father of Frances (Fannie) Eunice (blind) Langhorne
Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne (1866 – 1900)
daughter of James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne
Katherine Steptoe Houchins (1883 – 1943)
daughter of Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne
Katherine “Kitty” Elizabeth Langhorne Kerse (1916 – 2005)
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
Walter Roger Buck IV, Ph.D.
You are the son of Katherine “Kitty” Elizabeth Langhorne Kerse

 

 

 

Walter Roger Buck IV, Ph.D. (1955 – )
is your 1st cousin 1x removed
Katherine “Kitty” Elizabeth Langhorne Kerse (1916 – 2005)
mother of Walter Roger “Bucky” Buck IV, Ph.D.
Katherine Steptoe Houchins (1883 – 1943)
mother of Katherine “Kitty” Elizabeth Langhorne Kerse
Walter Thomas Houchins (1854 – 1937)
father of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
Guy Maurice Houchins (1897 – 1954)
son of Walter Thomas Houchins
Guy Maurice Houchins Jr.
You are the son of Guy Maurice Houchins

 

 

Daniel Patrick Spangler PhD (1934 – )
is your 2nd cousin
Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler (1885 – 1983)

father of Daniel Patrick Spangler PhD
Frances (Fannie) Eunice (blind) Langhorne (1854 – 1936)
mother of Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler
James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne (1822 – 1905)
father of Frances (Fannie) Eunice (blind) Langhorne
Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne (1866 – 1900)
daughter of James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne
Guy Maurice Houchins (1897 – 1954)
son of Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne
Guy Maurice Houchins Jr.
You are the son of Guy Maurice Houchins

This gallery contains 3 photos


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Charles Langhorne Spangler, Congressman, Revenuer and Moonshine Still Hunter! –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #30

 

Spangler, Tump,Charles Langhorne

Offical state photograph taken of Mr. Spangler in the early 1930’s when he served in The Virginia General Assembly.from The Mountain Laurel as cited below.

Charles Langhorne Spangler, called “Tump” was one of six children born of Wallace Wolford Spangler and his second wife Frances (Fannie) Eunice Langhorne. Tump had a half-brother, Harry Hannibal Spangler born 1877 to Wallace Wolford Spangler and first wife Catharine (Katie) Ellen Spangler. Wallace and Fannie’s children were:

 John Watts, “Babe ” Spangler (1882-1970)

 Charles Langhorne “Tump ” Spangler (1885-1983)

 Mary Josephine Spangler (1887-1970)

 Lila Ann Spangler (1889-1973)

 Elizabeth Lucretia Spangler (1892-)

 Virginia Empress Spangler (1894-1933)

 

As a young man, Tump married first, Susan Bertha Shelor, 1885-1909 who unfortunately died in childbirth. Secondly, he married Kittie Clyde Cockram and they had seven amazing children!

 Samuel Maurice Spangler 1916 – 1997

 Leila Evelyn Spangler 1918 – 2002

 Thomas W Spangler 1920 – 1991

 Benjamin Leslie Spangler1923 – 1996

 Harvie Langhorne Spangler 1928 – living

 Charles Bishop Spangler 1932 – 2011

 Daniel Patrick Spangler PhD 1934 – living

Spangler brothers Pat in red cap and Harvie  enjoy a private moment

Pat, left, and Harvie Spangler , brothers.

Two sons, Harvie and Pat (Daniel Patrick) are outstanding men in their own right, as were their siblings, and I will write more about them at a later date.  When you meet the grandchildren, of whom there are many, you can have no doubt about the upstanding character of their parents and Charles and how he passed on those strong character traits.

Among other things, Tump served as a Deputy Collector for the U.S. Internal Revenue (he was a revenuer!) In that capacity he spent many lonely days searching out and destroying moon-shine stills in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, in and around Patrick County. Charles is quoted in a family heirloom as writing, “My daily diary shows some 400 miles per month, for 4 years—1917-1921.” It just so happens, Charles had a first cousin who left those ole hills in a hurry one year. Later, another cousin, Mary Stuart Houchins, who became quite famous as a soap actress on the TV show “Search for Tomorrow”, wrote in her memoirs, that she had one cousin who was a revenuer, and one who shot a revenuer! Oh my gracious! I’ll have to ask Harvie and Pat if their Dad was ever shot!

Charles is probably best remembered for being elected to serve 5 terms in the Virginia House of Delegates. He was remembered in a tribute article in The Mountain Laurel now available online at http://www.mtnlaurel.com/. John H. Yeats wrote in 1989 that “the fact that he served with so much dedication, integrity and humility, set him apart from many of his legislative associates, and endeared him to many people.”

Spangler, Shelor home,cropped picture

Former home of Charles Langghorne Spangler, Virginia Legislator, and his wife, Kitty Clyde Cockram Langhorne

Tump Spangler, his wife Kitty Cockram, and their seven children grew up on a beautiful mountainous homestead that is still the home of one of his grandchildren. Once part of a 13,000 acre plantation owned in the Meadows of Dan by his grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne, that land has belonged in the family for 200 years at least.

DSCF7252

Tump Spangler on the fiddle!

A statesman and a revenuer, Tump was also a musician, like all the Spanglers! In his younger days he won many a fiddler convention we are told, although it was his brother John Watts, “Babe” Spangler who became the famous “Old Virginia Fiddler” on the radio in Richmond, Virginia for 30 years! His sister’s husband and his first cousin, Dudley Spangler was another incredible fiddler along with first cousin Harry Houchins on the banjo, all members of this talented Spangler/Langhorne family!

Tump was my first cousin, 2x removed!  What a treat to see his family at our reunion coming up immediately! You will hear all about it I’m sure! With best wishes for your days, Helen

MOD, lover's Leap

View from “lover’s Leap” in Patrick county, NC, very close to the home of Charles Langhorne Spangler and also formerly part of his Grandfather’s plantation.

 

Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler (1885 – 1983)
is your 1st cousin 2x removed
 
mother of Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler
 
father of Frances (Fannie) Eunice (blind) Langhorne
 
daughter of James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne
 
daughter of Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne
 
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
 
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse -


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John Langhorne Arrived in the Royal Colony of Virginia about 1666 and his Descendants Reunion Next Week! –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #29

The Langhorne family reunion is coming up in a week and a half, August 1-3, 2014,  and I am so excited!  As far as I know, this is the first reunion this branch of the family has ever had. Parts of this group reunion regularly, but not as Langhornes! The Spangler branch of this family has a reunion every other year! The descendants of Evelyn Langhorne, my great-grandmother, are relatively small in number, 52, I think I counted recently! We were close as children, but as the older generation died, and as we moved to many different states in the US, we don’t see each other as often as we’d like! Due to my genealogical research, and to the miracles of facebook, I began to renew friendships with my immediate cousins, and  to get to know some of my Spangler cousins, and attended their reunion in 2013!  I fell in love with their wonderful family, my cousins,  and with Patrick County, Virginia’s breathtaking beauty in the mountainous area of southwest Virginia.  This is where our great- great- grandfather, James Steptoe had a 13,000 acre plantation! This is the same family as Lady Nancy Langhorne Astor, and the Gibson Girls, and many other people I have been writing about in my blog. They are a large family whose first immigrant, John Langhorne, came to  Virginia about 1666.  That is a lot of history! 348 years! Many families were huge as was the tradition. When some of us decided to organize a reunion, we quickly realized we did not have time to do the research and organization to find all the Langhornes. So, I got together with the Spanglers, and we decided to try uniting our two branches, the descendants of Fannie Langhorne Spangler  and Evelyn Langhorne Houchins, sisters and daughters of James Steptoe Langhorne and Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro! I volunteered to head up the organizing effort, because I wanted it to happen so strongly!  Even though we emphasized our two branches of the family, we were open to any Langhorne relation joining us! 

As part of this challenge to write about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks, I have chosen to highlight the Langhorne family to encourage people to attend the reunion and drum up interest! But of course, I have ended up learning so much! I even met another cousin , a descendant of a different child of James Steptoe Langhorne, the author of the new book The Virginia Langhornes, by James C. Langhorne. We have actually only met online, and will meet in person at the reunion where he will meet all of us as well as speak to us about his book. How I am looking forward to that! I am already planning to interview some family members while there, (look out!) , so that I can blog about them later! 

John Langhorne, arrived in Virginia by 1670 with his wife Rebecca Carter. Wow, here it is, 344 years later, and the history between us is staggering! John and Rebecca settled on a plantation on the James River and became members of the landed gentry very quickly.  Besides my cousin james C. Langhorne’s book, one of the foremost historians writing about John Langhorne has been Thomas Litten.  He states that John was born in 1640 and came to Warwick County, Va. in 1666. dying in 1687.  Just think, he lived only 47 years.  When I realize what he accomplished in 47 years, it amazes me!  Thomas Litten tells us in “The Langhornes–A First Family of Virginia”         

 

“Due to the destruction of a large number of Warwick County records during the Civil War, all that is known of Captain John Langhorne, is that he was a powerful and influential man. Upon his arrival in Virginia, John Langhorne purchased 1,300 acres from William Whitby, Jr. who was a Burgess for Warwick County. To this he later added 700 acres, which was acquired by a royal grant through the importation of indentured servants. As the most densely populated, and hence the most civilized and desirable county in Virginia, Warwick was an excellent location for John Langhorne to build his fortune. His 2,000-acre plantation was one of the largest in the lower Tidewater region. Among the larger planters of his day, John Langhorne traded his tobacco directly with the mother country for a hefty profit. He also handled shipments for the smaller planters who could not afford direct trade with England.

By the mid 1670’s John Langhorne had been appointed with Col. William Byrd I and Maj. Robert Beverley to fortify the three main rivers of Virginia. The coveted assignment proved to be very lucrative, and over the next several years, the House of Burgesses recorded many payments to John Langhorne, the largest of which amounted to 90,000 pounds of tobacco. At a time when most of the modest Virginia farmers made their living off of little more than 1,000 pounds of tobacco annually, this was an incredible sum. John Langhorne, William Byrd, and Robert Beverley were not soldiers themselves, rather they were assigned to oversee the construction and operation of the essential forts. On the heels of his success with the York River Fort, John Langhorne was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1680, thus establishing a tradition of political service that would characterize his prominent descendents.

Capt. John Langhorne died around 1687, leaving his large estate in the capable care of his wife and his good friend Col. Miles Cary II of neighboring Richneck plantation, until his eldest son John Langhorne, Jr. (1666-1688) came of age. John Jr. along with the youngest son William Langhorne died early, leaving Maurice Langhorne to inherit the entire estate.

As the sole heir of John Langhorne, Maurice Langhorne (1670-1698) inherited a huge estate. Around 1690 he married Anne Cary of “The Forest”. Anne Cary was the daughter of Capt. Henry Cary, a planter who was well-known as the master builder of Williamsburg. The marriage of Maurice Langhorne to Anne Cary was a good one, for the Carys were one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the Virginia Colony. In 1695, Maurice and Anne Langhorne had their only child, whom they named John Langhorne. Within three short years Maurice Langhorne died, and young John was sent to “The Forest” to be raised by his maternal grandparents Henry and Judith Cary. Anne Cary Langhorne soon remarried, a member of another prominent Tidewater family, Benjamin Harrison III of Charles City County. Until John Langhorne III (1695-1767) reached his majority, the Harrison family operated Gambell plantation. For the next twenty years, John Langhorne would spend his days in the polite atmosphere of the Cary plantation.

When in his early twenties however, John Langhorne III had become anxious for his own personal success. Thus in 1719, he took over Gambell and married Mary Beverley of Middlesex County. Mary Beverley was a granddaughter of Capt. John Langhorne’s old friend and contemporary Maj. Robert Beverley. Throughout his long career, Hon. John Langhorne served as a Justice of the Peace, a member of the House of Burgesses, Sheriff of Warwick County, and Presiding Justice of Warwick County from 1749-1762. In addition to his numerous political duties, John Langhorne III continued to expand his land holdings by purchasing new plantations in Chesterfield County, and was also a highly successful merchant, continuing the tradition laid out by his fortune-founding grandfather some fifty years before. John Langhorne and Mary Beverley had three children who left issue. Their only daughter Lockey (named after Judith Lockey, the wife of Capt. Henry Cary and mother of Anne Cary) was successfully courted by Thomas Tabb. Lockey’s considerable dowry helped to establish the Tabb family as members of the Tidewater elite. The elder son, Maj. Maurice Langhorne II (1719-1790) removed to Cumberland County to live near his cousin Col. Archibald Cary of “Ampthill” and his lovely wife, the former Mary Randolph of “Curles”. This Maurice Langhorne bought thousands of acres in Cumberland and established himself as a great success in his own right.

The younger son, Maj. William Langhorne (1721-1797) held possession of the Warwick County estates and became the most prominent of the three. He married Elizabeth Cary Scarsbrook, a cousin of George Washington and Thomas Nelson, and daughter of the wealthy Yorktown merchant Col. Henry Scarsbrook. Henry Scarsbrook was the great-grandson of Capt. Nicholas Martiau, the man whose plantation was later turned into Yorktown. Like his father, William Langhorne served as a Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, and as a Burgess. He was also a magistrate for forty years. During the Revolutionary War, William Langhorne served as aide-de-camp to the Marquis de Lafayette, was a member of the Committee of Safety, and was the only representative of Warwick County for the first four out of five Revolutionary Conventions. His service has been commemorated on a memorial in Williamsburg. Of his nine children, two sons were the most prominent. Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne (1760-1797) married the daughter of his Uncle Maj. Maurice Langhorne of Cumberland, thus reuniting two lines of family inheritance. Marrying of cousins, a common practice among the wealthy families of Virginia and other colonies likewise, helped to keep money in the family. John Scarsbrook Langhorne’s younger brother, another Maurice Langhorne (1769-1818) married Martha Holladay of “Indian Fields”, and their grandson Maurice Finney Langhorne married Lillian Isabelle Blair Polk, a close relative of President James K. Polk.

Due to the untimely drowning of their father in the James River in 1797, the three sons of Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne received equal portions of both their father and their grandfather’s estates. An interesting event occurred at this time. Peter Carr, a favorite nephew of Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to George Washington under the name of his kinsman John Langhorne. The letter was intended to “elicit political sentiments useful to the republican cause in Virginia.” However, when it was discovered that John Langhorne had recently died and that the true author of the letter was Peter Carr, George Washington became very suspicious of Thomas Jefferson, as he had assumed that Peter Carr had written the letter under the instructions of Thomas Jefferson. The infamous “Langhorne Letter” was published in 1803.

The eldest of the three brothers and heirs of John Scarsbrook Langhorne’s estate was William Langhorne (1783-1858) who moved to Bedford County, where he wed Catherine Callaway, the daughter of the extremely rich planter and iron manufacturer Col. James Callaway of “Royal Forest”, whose third wife was Mary Langhorne of Cumberland. William Langhorne was, like his father-in-law, a planter and iron manufacturer, who was said to be the most courtly gentleman of his day.

The second brother Maurice Langhorne (1787-1865) moved to Lynchburg, where his inherited wealth was fantastically increased by his successful forays in the Lynchburg tobacco market. Before he died, Maurice Langhorne built for his children the famous “Langhorne’s Row,” a set of four extravagant Greek Revival Lynchburg townhouses, whose architectural sophistication was unmatched anywhere in Virginia with the sole exception of Richmond.

The youngest brother Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne (1790-1854) would surpass them all. Although he was first seated on some of the Cumberland County lands that he had inherited through his mother, he quickly resolved to move to Lynchburg with his brother Maurice. In 1816 Henry S. Langhorne married Frances Callaway Steptoe, the highly sought after daughter of Hon. James Steptoe and Frances Callaway of “Federal Hill”. Here begins a series of interesting family connections that beautifully illustrate the “web of kinship” that existed between Virginia’s ruling families. Frances Callaway was an older sister of Catherine Callaway, wife of Henry Langhorne’s brother William. Hon. James Steptoe was the eldest son of Westmoreland County planter Col. James Steptoe of “Nominy Hall” and his second wife Elizabeth Eskridge of “Sandy Point” (a daughter of Col. George Eskridge, the guardian of Mary Ball Washington). Hon. James Steptoe had two sisters, Elizabeth Steptoe who married Col. Philip Ludwell Lee of “Stratford”, and Anne Steptoe who married Samuel Washington and became the mother of George Steptoe Washington who in turn married Lucy Payne, the sister of First Lady Dolly Payne Madison. Hon. James Steptoe also had two half sisters who were his mother’s daughters by her first husband William Aylett. The first sister, Mary Aylett, married Thomas Ludwell Lee, and the second, Anne Aylett, became the first wife of Richard Henry Lee of “Chantilly”.

The powerful connections of the Steptoe and Callaway families ensured that the Langhornes, although newcomers from the Tidewater, were met with constant success in the Virginia Piedmont. As the planting of tobacco was no longer as profitable as it had once been, Henry S. Langhorne erected in Lynchburg, the second largest milling firm in Virginia. He never abandoned planting though, and continued to buy numerous plantations in Bedford, Campbell and Amherst Counties. In 1845, he retired and relocated to “Cloverdale”, the 3,500-acre Botetourt County plantation he had just purchased from his niece’s husband George Plater Tayloe of “Buena Vista”. His eldest son John Scarsbrook Langhorne (born 1819) married Sarah Elizabeth Dabney of “Edgemont”, a great-granddaughter of William Randolph II of “Chatesworth”. He inherited Langhorne Mills, along with the bulk of his father’s estate. The second son James Steptoe Langhorne (1822-1905) was given an ample number of slaves and the 13,000-acre “Langdale” plantation located near the border of North Carolina.”

This brings us up to the children of James Steptoe Langhorne some of whose descendants will be visiting the remains of his Langdale Plantation in just over a week’s time! Wow! Living history! Our newest author of Langhorne history, James C. Langhorne has done research that found some differing information from Thomas Litten’s work. Progress and change are to be expected as new discoveries are made. As I learn more, you will hear about it! Expect lots of pictures from my own camera! 

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