Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Thomas Philip Kerse– Irish Cop like his Dad–52 ancestors in 52 weeks!

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Photo of Richmond Police Dept.

Police wagon paddy wagon, Black Maria, driven by Thomas Kerse in 1910

Example of police wagon, Black Maria, driven by Thomas Kerse in 1910, actual picture from Wikicommons.

My grandfather Thomas Philip Kerse, was a police officer in Richmond, Virginia as was his Dad before him–Sergeant James H. Kerse. I wrote about his Dad just a week ago which you can read here if you like. Thomas Philip Kerse was born in 1884 and died in 1939, at 55 years old. He started working for the police department in 1910 when he was 26. In 1911 he married my grandmother, Katherine Steptoe Houchins. Together they had seven children, one son and six daughters! Their only son, called Bucky,  drowned in the James River when he was only 8 years old.  You can read his story in this blog post if you’d like. The six girls were a moving force! They were a close-knit family and “the sisters” were the matriarchs of our collective families, and my mother Margaret Steptoe Kerse Youngblood was one of them! Unfortunately, they were no strangers to tragedy, as their mother, a nurse was shot in the head by a private duty patient she was attending–blogged about as well.

We were told that our grandfather drove a police car, but I never really thought about what a remarkable thing that was until I began researching and realized that automobiles weren’t often found in public in the United States  before 1907! Police departments generally still used horses and carriages. For him to be hired specifically to drive one of the first police cars for the Richmond City Police Department in 1910 in Virginia, now means a lot more ! I found several articles about his driving the “Paddy Wagon” or the “Black Maria”. Both of these were slang names for the police wagon used to pick up prisoners–especially those resisting arrest. I was so pleased to find these newspaper articles from the Richmond Times Dispatch on genealogybank.com, about his being hired, about a police parade review with him driving the “Black maria”, and about his shooting a rabid dog!

The story I like the most however, is the story about Grandpa Tom’s own dog! Apparently he had a beloved setter whom he walked around town regularly. One day the setter got loose and ran up on a train trestle crossing the James River. Tragically, a train was coming! The dog realized it, but didn’t have time to run off the trestle! Apparently several witnesses saw the dog panic, running wildly back and forth between the trestles, and they all thought he would be killed instantly!  However, at the last moment, Tom’s dog went to the very center of the tracks, laid down flat between the rails, and the train ran right over him! When the train cleared the trestle, the townspeople ran onto the bridge, expecting to find the worst. Instead, Tom’s dog jumped up to greet them seemingly unharmed! What a miracle!

Please share the next chapter of my story of Thomas P. Kerse as I get to tell you about my amazing discovery of another blog about what was once his boat–the Lady Jane! Thanks for joining me in my family stories, have a great week, Helen

Kerse, Thomas, dog caught on train trestlle

Thomas Kerse’s dog caught on train trestleKerse, Tom, hired as driver for police dept.

Kerse, Tom , killed rabid dog , close up

Kerse, Tom, police parade,pg. 2, close upKerse, Tom, police parade, 1910, page 3, close upKerse, Tom, police parade, 1910, page 4, close up

This gallery contains 26 photos


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The Spangler Family Reunion, Meadows of Dan, Patrick Co., Va.,July,2013

Spangler homestead, Meadows of Dan 

  Elegant, southern, and stately, this is the home of Debra Spangler Shelor, Rob Shelor and their two sons, Paul and Aaron.  It was the original home site of Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler and his wife Kittie Cockram Spangler, Debra’s grandparents. Before that, this land was a part of the original 13,000 acres of the “Langdale” plantation, owned by our Great, Great Grandfather James Steptoe Langhorne and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro Langhorne. It was so incredible to walk on land that my family had been walking on for more than 100 years!  Spangler Reunion, Barn, best

Arriving at the Shelor home site, my husband Max and I were immediately swept up in more cousins than we could imagine! We quickly met the Patriarchs of the family-Harvie Langhorne Spangler, age 86, and Daniel Patrick “Pat” Spangler, age 79, shown here with wife Dorothy. They were full of energy and excitement for seeing all the  family. 

Spangler, Harvie, 2012  Spangler, Patrick and Dorothy, 2013

   

        We enjoyed having the opportunity to meet lots of people, like these, my cousins, Margie Spangler Cartwright and her sister Berniece Spangler Irvin who told me a lot about the family. They felt like long time friends! When we gathered under the tent, Margie introduced Max and me to her brother Wallace William Spangler and his wife Evelyn. We shared stories and laughter!   Margie, Wallace, and Berniece are the children of Tump’s sister Mary Josephine Spangler and Dudley Spangler.They are first cousins to Harvie and Pat. Margie, Wallace, and Berniece are Fannie Langhorne Spangler’s grandchildren, just like Harvie and Pat. All five of us are second cousins. 

Spangler reunion, Helen meets sisters Berniece and  L age 98Spangler Reunion, l to r, wife, brother and sister

       Harvie Langhorne Spangler         Spangler's left to right, Beverly Spangler Fariss , her husband and child, Harvie Spangler with microphone, next to daughter Debra Spangler Shelor and daughter            welcomed everyone to the reunion,  as did his daughter Beverly Spangler Fariss, first on the left, standing next to her nephew, Debra’s son Paul Shelor, with his daughter Autumn in his arms. Beside Harvie, in the black blouse, is Debra Spangler Shelor,  also Harvie’s daughter and the home owner of this lovely homestead. With Debra is her granddaughter Ivy, Paul’s daughter. Debra’s husband Rob and other son Aaron are not pictured here.                                                 

 

 

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

 Above, brothers, Harvie and Pat Spangler take a private minute together.

 

Spangler reunion, view of tent Spangler reunion, gathering under the tent to watch and listen

 

Off and on showers, even downpours didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of this group!

 

     

      A call for all the grandchildren, greats, and great greats, of Wallace Wolford and Fannie Langhorne Spangler to come carry the flag and raise it brought out all generations!

spangler grandchildren carrying the flad to raise

Spangler's , grandchildren raise the flag

Having sung the Star Spangled Banner, and dodged another rain shower, each family spoke to the crowd and let us know what had happened in their family since the last reunion: births, deaths, marriages, achievements like college-it was great! Chuck Spangler acted as emcee and did a great job!

   Spangler , Chuck emcees at reunion    Spangler, Clockwise from left Mary, Cammi, Chuck, Bryce & Bailey at Mabry Mill along the Blue Ridge Parkway. (2)

In the picture on the right, Chuck Spangler’s family gathers at Mabry Mill . Clockwise from left: Mary his wife, Cammi, Chuck, Bryce & Bailey  along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Chuck is the gg grandson of Wallace and Fannie Langhorne Spangler. His great grandparents are Tump and Kittie Cockram Spangler.  His grandfather  Samuel Maurice Spangler, was the  firstborn  child of Tump and Kittie Cockram Spangler and  was married to Iris Texas Branscome Spangler. That also makes him my 4th cousin, and gives him about 15 other 4th cousins in my generational line of the Langhorne family. LOL, isn’t this fun!

The g grandson of Babe Spangler, George, was talking to the group and filling us in on Babe’s descendants. He reminded us that “Sweetie” ,his Aunt Grace Spangler is the only living child of Babe’s.  Sweetie will be 98 this year and still lives independently in Richmond, Va. He says Julie takes good care of her, and there is rarely a problem, except sometimes they have to yell at her to “get off the ladder Sweetie,and stop trying to clean out those gutters! ” LOL  Longevity and humor abound in this family!

There is so much more to tell you and to show you,but that will have to wait until the next post. The Spanglers are such a down to earth, normal family, yet they soar with  musical ability, intelligence,  and creativity as well. I can hardly wait to share the fun with you!


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Five Generations of Women, Daughters, Mothers, and Grandmothers

 Image          Its been 130 years since my grandmother was born.  Katherine Steptoe Houchins, called Kate, was born in the Southwestern area of Virginia, in Patrick County, a beautiful, mountainous area of  Virginia. She died in 1943, in the city of Richmond,Virginia. She may not have wanted for much in her early years, because her mother was Evalina Langhorne, daughter of James Steptoe Langhorne, a wealthy plantation owner and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro. However, Kate’s mother Evalina  was only 15 when she married, had seven children, then died in childbirth, along with the twins she was having in October, 1900. One of her other children had died at age 2, while the other six children  ranged in age from 3 to 17, with my Grandmother Kate being the oldest! They had lived with their Grandpa Steptoe as  he was called, but his house burned to the ground sometime shortly before her mother’s death. Her grandfather Steptoe was blind,and died in 1905, so he was unable to help a great deal with these children. Their own father, age  46 at the time of his wife’s death, left the state with another 15-year-old with whom he had two more children. So the six surviving children were farmed out to boarding schools, military schools, and other family members. On the 1910 census, I can find five of them, in school or in a relative’s home. However, as adults, I knew all five of my great aunts and uncles and they seemed very close for having been torn apart for ten to fifteen years. 

          Kate went to live with  Langhorne cousins in Richmond, Virginia, and attended  nursing school. Then she married Thomas Philip Kearse, (Kerse) and had seven children herself, one of whom was my mother, Margaret Steptoe Kearse Youngblood. Kate had a hard adult life I believe.  After losing her mother at age 17, her beloved grandfather shortly thereafter, and losing the home in which she’d lived,  her sense of security must have been battered. Then her only son of seven children drowned! Her husband had a yacht, with which he captained tour groups and parties up and down the James River and across the Chesapeake Bay to Maryland  and the Eastern Shore.   The children all learned to swim and spent many happy occasions on the boat always with friends and family. However, one day in October, 1922, 7 yr. old Thomas Philip Kearse Jr. , called Bucky, was out in a dingy with a 16-year-old boy. A big ship came by and the huge wake caused the boys to capsize! The sixteen year old tried in vain to save his little friend, the big ship even turned around and tried to help, to no avail. It was a few days before they found his body! Young when her mother dies, house burns down, father leaves the family, child dies, what else ? It’s hard to believe, but this wonderful woman, a nurse by profession and by all reports a superb one, met tragedy at the hands of a patient. She was caring for a comatose private duty patient. She had bathed him and went to empty the water, as my mother told the story. When she returned to the room, he yelled out for her to get away and called her by the name of some of our military adversaries in  WWI. He was delirious, but afraid. Unfortunately, there was either a rifle hanging on the wall that was still loaded, or a gun in a table drawer beside the bed. I have heard both versions of the story, no one knew any weapon there was loaded. In his delirious state he shot my grandmother in the head! Within a couple of hours, he was dead of his own illness, just that last semiconscious rousing  turned her whole world upside down and that of her children and husband also! She was shot on January 28, 1930, but not killed. The bullet apparently split in half, half traveling down her neck,and half lodging in her brain, inoperable. She lived,but was unable to talk and walk well for the rest of her life–and she had six children! By then her husband worked for the police department as did his father and grandfather! But they always had the boat! Their stories of adventure were endless! 

In honor of Mother’s Day 2013, I want to write more about these six women/girls in my familly.I would love to hear about your Mom or grandmom, especially unique things about them. Enjoy your Mother’s Day! 

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