Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Honoring the College and University Level Teachers in Our Family, Past and Present


Teachers teach all other professions

During the months of September and October, 2015, we’ve been honoring and recognizing the Educators in our Family Tree, past and present. I am presenting quite a few educators in today’s blog post. I am sure that there are many more whom I either have not identified, or did not know. Please feel free to comment and tell me about those I have missed so that I can either include them here with a correction or write an addendum.

It just so happens that I had the blessing in my life to teach children with behavioral and emotional issues in first  through sixth grade right out of college. After being at that level for three years, I moved to the Junior High level where I taught students aged 12-16, they would be classified middle and high schoolers today.  When we first moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1980, I had the opportunity to teach Interpersonal Communication at North Carolina State University for 3 years as a “Visiting Lecturer”. Most of you know, with my BA from Greensboro College and my MA in Clinical Psychology from Chapman College,  I went on to become an individual and family therapist for twenty years after that.  My point is to say, having taught at the different levels, and known so many teachers over the years, I can say that teaching is challenging at all levels! The challenges are different for sure, but the ultimate goal  is to educate, and every single level is needed to create success at the next level! We cannot skip any level of development and learning and expect to have a well-educated person! As the saying above aptly states, “Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions!”  Nothing could be more true! Why then don’t we make the salary of our CEO’s!  I’d vote for that!  It’s past time the importance and value of our teachers be more highly recognized by our States and National Government budget makers!

We have amazing people in our family–I hope you will enjoy “meeting” these people  and knowing just a bit about what they do and where they teach, if you want to be in touch with any of them, let me know and I will ask them to get in touch. I am presenting them in alphabetical order by first name, we are family after all!

Carol E. Winters, 2013Carol E. Winters, PhD, RN, CNE (Doctorate, Registered Nurse, Certified Nursing Educator) my cousin through the Scottish Hogue family, is currently a Professor of Nursing at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.  She is the Director of the MSN Nursing Education Concentration–she teaches Graduate level nurses to be Nursing Educators! Carol served as the Dean of the School of Nursing at Hawaii Pacific University in Hawaii for 16 years before returning home to North Carolina.  Carol has a BA in Christian Education from Greensboro College in Greensboro, NC, then an M.S. in Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She earned her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.  Not only has she these teaching , leadership accomplishments, but so much more! She is a published author, has been a hands-on nurse of obstetrics, and since 2009, has been a Faculty Advisor for the NFLA, Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy, a national organization sponsored by Sigma Theta Tau, the International Nursing Honor Society jointly with the Elsevier Foundation. There is so much more I could tell you about this dynamic woman who happened to be my college roommate and friend of almost 50 years! We only discovered our cousinship last year through my genealogical research!  She has three children, five grandchildren, and has done vast amounts of volunteer work in her communities, and served and led many committees.

 October 1, 2015,–Carol Emerson Winters was honored as the 2015 Nurse Educator of the Year by the NCNA, the North Carolina Nursing Association! CONGRATULATIONS! AN HONOR WELL DESERVED! congratulations in gold

My Hogue cousin, Dee Horn, has tutored College level     Dee Horn also   English at two  different colleges over the years. I have known many college level tutors. When I was at NC State University I quickly learned how invaluable they were to many students–like those who had learning disabilities, some who were blind, and  even some who were valuable sports team members who needed extra help to keep up with academics during their physically demanding playing and practice seasons. We take our hats off to one on one teachers! 

Donna Miller 3Another Hogue cousin  Donna Miller earned her degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and taught Business Education  at the High School level, in Business Schools, and at Community Colleges.  Life, marriage, and children took her from Pennsylvania to Connecticut and Rhode Island.  In Norwich, Connecticut, for 23 years, she taught at a business school and served as an Academic Dean!  After retirement, she worked  part-time at Three Rivers Community College.  

When I asked Donna about some memories, she  said several things which I wanted to share.  One was a simple teaching technique but fun: “I liked making the students think about what they were doing. Sometimes I would purposely make a spelling or grammatical error on a test and then tell the students that they would get extra points if they found it.” That’s the kind of thing that adds an extra challenge and a bit of fun for students!   She went on to say: “It’s the one profession where students have actually come back and said, ‘Thank you for believing in me,’ or ‘pushing me,’ or ‘making me realize that I can do . . . .’  When you are finished teaching, you know that despite some of the negatives (there were stressors), you feel that you have done something positive with your life.”  Oh yes! I know a lot of the educators we have profiled feel this way, and it is why we admire and love them so!  When a teacher’s philosophies so resonate with you, you know you’d love to have that teacher for yourself, or for your children, and you know with certainty that they are a GREAT teacher! 

My first cousin James Goodell, great-great grandson of Goodell, James McClainJ.Steptoe Langhorne, has taught computer sciences for many years at Menlo College in Atherton, California. He studied at the University of Freiburg located in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.  He currently serves as President of the Goodell Corporation, a family real estate school and business his father founded.

Youngblood, LarryLarry Youngblood is one of our multi-leveled/multi-talented teachers as well! For years he has home schooled his grandchildren through all the levels of education!  Having studied at Texas A&M University Larry  has taught at Private Catholic Schools, Business Schools and Universities.  For several years now, Larry has been the Administrator of the International Youngblood DNA Project researching the  different family lines of Youngbloods evidenced by their dna.  He is currently writing a book about the Youngblood/Jungblut/Jungbloedt families. Thank you Larry! 

Pat Spangler, PhD, my second cousin, son of Charles Langhorne Spangler and Kittie Cockram Spangler, grandson of  Fanny Langhorne, and Great Grandson Spangler, Pat, PhD 2014of J.Steptoe Langhorne is a geophysicist in a family with three close cousins who are/were geophysicists! What honor he and they bring to our family!  You can read a previous blog post featuring them  at  Buck, Spangler and Houchins, Three Cousins Who are Geophysicists as Well!   Pat Spangler, PhD, is retired from the University of Florida, and thus his title is now Associate Professor Emeritus of Geology. Pat has published extensively and is highly respected in the academic community as well as in his family community.

Rick White, PhD, Donald Richard White, Professor, 3x gr grandson of James Steptoe LanghorneI am thrilled to introduce to many of you, our cousin Dr. Rick White, PhD, Chemist. Rick is the second great-grandchild of James Steptoe and Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro Langhorne, same as James Goodell, Roger Buck IV, PhD and I are. Pat Spangler above is their great-grandson. Rick is a Professor of Chemistry at St. John’s River State College in Jacksonville, Florida after a twenty plus year career in industry. He has also taught at Florida Southern College, and at the University of Tampa. He earned his PhD at the University of Florida and did post doctoral studies at King’s College in London. (At the time of his post doctoral work, the school was called Queen Elizabeth College, but Margaret Thatcher consolidated the colleges in the mid-1980’s and it became King’s) Rick has three sisters by the way, more cousins for us to enjoy. Another extremely accomplished professional, Rick has over 25 peer-reviewed publications, and over 200 internal company reports from his time with industry.

Rick worked for over twenty years for Procter and Gamble. Twelve of those years were spent in their Food and Beverage business before moving to their Health Care business where he worked for another ten years! He was an analytical chemist, supporting all aspects of product development, from inception to launch. Some of the products he worked with included brands you will recognize like Folger’s Coffee, Pringles Potato Chips, Citrus Hill Orange Juice, Pepto-Bismol, Metamucil, Crest Toothpaste, and Vick’s cough and cold remedies! Just think, from now on when you pick up one of those products, you will know that our DNA is part of the brain that helped develop them! We are very proud to be related to you Dr. Rick White!

Voorus House, Dorothy Pearl

Voorus Home in PA

Robert Voorus, 1891-1985, my cousin through the Spangler and Hogue families, had brothers and sisters  who were featured in the earlier educator posts. Robert worked in the Library of Congress as a young man. When he moved back to Pleasantville, Pennsylvania he taught at a Business School in Oil City, Pennsylvania. He is remembered by family as an excellent educator. 

Roger Buck,III was a master’s level Marine Biologist. He spent Buck, Walter Roger Buck, IIImost of his professional life researching for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA, which is now part of William and Mary College for their Oceanography Concentration.  Roger not only researched heavily, but he taught at William and Mary College and earlier at Duke University. With all of his major accomplishments, Roger, my Uncle by marriage to Katherine Langhorne Kerse, was a kind and genteel man who raised a son and a daughter who both earned their  PhD.  His son, W. Roger Buck IV,  became an educator and research scientist as well, while his daughter Tyler Buck is a financial analyst and advisor with her own company.

Roger Buck, IV,PhD, my first cousin through the Kerse, buck, Walter roger Buck IVHouchins, Langhorne families, is a Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University in New York. His speciality is earthquakes and he researches through Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.  He has traveled the world lecturing and researching as he says, from “collecting rock samples for radiometric dating in Egypt, and in the Mojave Desert, to diving on the Reykjanes Mid-Ocean Ridge in a Russian submersible, and helping with GPS surveys on Iceland.” What amazing adventures this cousin has experienced!

I just want to make a couple observations regarding our families. The Langhornes were a wealthy family from England. But James Steptoe Langhorne became blind, several of his children, grandchildren and more, were blinded by the same inherited disease, his only natural son drowned at age 16, and after the Civil War, he was land poor and devastated!  Wouldn’t he be amazed and gratified that his grandchildren and greats would grow to be such good and educated people, and educators! He and his wife Elizabeth started a school and a Sunday School in Meadows of Dan, Virginia both of which were very important to them. We have carried on that philosophy–because it is imbedded in our DNA?  It is interesting!

The Hogues emigrated from Scotland, the Youngbloods from Germany, while the Voorhees originated in the Netherlands.  They fought in our Revolutionary War and our Civil War and many others. They were honorable people who supported their new country, but most of all, the Voorhees and  Hogues were Presbyterian Ministers and educators. It is amazing to me to see the traditions and/or the DNA at work in such a continuing fashion.

 What accomplishments for all of us to be proud of, and thankful for! Thank you our family members who educate all of us– for your inspiration, your wisdom, and your hard work! We honor all of you as you have honored us!

Teaching quote, wisest-mind-george-quote

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Meadows of Dan Baptist Church Burns Down!


Meadows of Dan is a small town on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Patrick County, Virginia. It sits at the mouth of the Dan River which runs down through North Carolina. My great, great-grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne (called Steptoe) is credited with naming this town when he took up residence there about 1840. He and his wife, my Great-Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro inherited a 13,000 acre plantation! They had slaves to help them run the house and the agricultural part of the plantation. They built a grist mill, started a school, and taught Sunday school from their own home. I descend from their daughter Evelyn, one of Steptoe’s eight children. Unfortunately, Steptoe was blind, inflicted with retinitis pigmentosa, the hereditary disease that stole the sight of his mother, several of his siblings, children, grandchildren, and continues in the family today.

Steptoe’s daughter Frances, called Fannie married Wallace Wolford Spangler and they raised their six children right there in the Meadows of Dan while most of the other grandchildren went elsewhere. When we had a Langhorne family reunion last year, it was the Spanglers who gave the tours and led the singing since they were the accomplished musicians from years gone by ! (If you check the right column of categories, you can find many stories and music videos about the Langhornes and the Spanglers.) While all of the grandchildren are gone, many of Steptoe’s Great-Grandchildren, Great-Greats and more still live in the area. 

During the Langhorne reunion last year, several of the family attended church services at the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church. We all went to the church cemetery where Steptoe and Elizabeth are buried, as well as Evelyn, Fannie and some others, including Evelyn’s child Virginia. This beautiful church and cemetery rests on land that once belonged to the Langhorne’s, Steptoe and his brother William who donated the land for the church, and even built the first log church there. When you walk in the cemetery and into the church, you can feel a sense of roots–this is  where our family lived, this is where they walked, 175 years ago! 

Also in this same church cemetery, are the graves of the Langhorne slaves. Yes, they are segregated, but they are present in the same church cemetery which lends credence to the stories of the Langhornes being kind to their slaves and treating them humanely. I am working on another post about the slaves, gathering their names for the National Slave Name Roll Project which was recently started by Schalene Jennings Dagutis. Over the years, there have been some controversies surrounding the “slave meadow” as their area has come to be called, started by an article of that name that can by found in the online mountain journal by Bob Heafner entitled The Mountain Laurel. I discuss this in more detail in the next post. 

Over 100 years ago, the members of the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church built a new church–the lovely white one seen in the pictures above. Last night that church burned down!  Thank heavens, no one was hurt.  Apparently the fire was caused by the furnace malfunctioning. Already the minister of the church is reminding the public that the church is the community, not the building. They will rebuild and be stronger than ever. 

When I learned that the church was on fire– I was shocked, even moved to tears! Then I was surprised that I had such strong feelings for a church just barely known to me really, as family history. However, I realized that I had gotten to know many people, many cousins,  in that community in the last couple years–I knew it would be painful to them, and part of what I was feeling was sympathy, empathy, the desire to go and be with them, to comfort them. I have to admit, being steeped just now in slave research, I wondered if there was malice involved, or anything to do with the controversies of the slave meadow. As it turns out that was all fantasy on my part, it reflects what I was studying in another era, arson is NOT suspected in this situation, but a wiring or other electrical problem unfortunately. The blessing comes in that no one was hurt by such a huge fire!  If you look at the very last photograph above (click to enlarge), you will see that three crosses appeared in the fire. A citizen of the community took this picture, Angela Grubb. What does it mean? Was it real?  What do you think, I’d really like to know. 

What a heart breaking event for many, many people, members of the church, and others with ties to the community.   I am praying that from the ashes something better will arise, with God’s help. Amen. 

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Langhorne Reunion, Meadows of Dan, Virginia, 2014 -a Celebration of Family!



Descendants of Early Settlers of the Meadows of Dan, Virginia,  Reunion


The first weekend in August, 2014, descendants of James Steptoe Langhorne (pronounced Lang’n) and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro Langhorne gathered for their very first reunion. They came to Meadows of Dan to see the old home place, the Langhorne Mill, Langhorne School, and church founded by their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and yes even 4th great grandparents!  While some of the  50 reunioners actually live here in Patrick County and showed the others around, the large majority of the family attending were from all over the United States including California, Oklahoma, Florida, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and of course other areas of Virginia! They filled the Woodberry Inn, visited local sites like Mabry’s Mill, Floyd’s Country Store, and the Chateau Morrisette Winery, aa well as toured the Cockram Mills Complex with Gary and Ron Cockram along with having brunch at the lovely Crooked Road Café. They shopped their cousins’ and other’s businesses like the Greenberry House, Poor Farmer’s Market, and the candy factory. Above it all, they took in the scenery of beautiful Patrick County and the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Saturday morning, the group took a tour of areas of special interest to the descendants. Thanks to permission from local land owners, and the leadership of family members Harvie and Pat Spangler, brothers, and cousin Beverly Belcher Woody who wrote up a tour guide for the family, family members got to see where the Langhornes had settled back in the 1840’s, taking over the massive 13,000 acre plantation named Langdale– inherited through their own father and grandfathers, originally part of a land grant. Grandpa Steptoe as he was called in the family, first saw the area when he was a teenager and reported it as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Because the area had some of the few flat plateaus in the geographic area on the Dan River, with beautiful meadows, James Steptoe Langhorne named the area the Meadows of Dan, according to many published articles.


Steptoe went completely blind, and never actually saw his beloved home site again. Nevertheless, he married, settled here, and owned slaves who worked the agricultural part of his plantation. He established a grist mill, a school, and he and his wife and his brother William Langhorne who never married, gave land and built a log church where the current Meadows of Dan Baptist Church is located. Steptoe, his wife, his brother William, and at least three of his nine children and a couple of his grandchildren are buried at that church. Some members of the family attended services at the church Sunday morning while here for the reunion.

The family was so excited, so happy to walk where their grandparents had walked, worshiped, and worked almost 175 years ago! When we ate our last meal together at The Crooked Road Café that Sunday, we were acutely aware that we were sitting on the Dan River where our grandparents’ plantation was located so long ago! We were having coffee where they might have had coffee themselves, how amazing!

The Langhorne family is known for our most famous ancestors, and first cousins to the Patrick County Langhornes:  Lady Astor, Nancy Langhorne from Danville originally, who became the first American woman to sit in England’s Parliament!  At one time, she was the wealthiest woman in the world; and her sisters became the famous Gibson Girls.

Steptoe lost most of his money after the Civil War, as did most Southerners. However, his children and grandchildren went on to do incredible things. Steptoe Langhorne’s nine children included:

1.Henry Ellis Langhorne, 1849-1865, who drowned in the mill pond at age 16.

2.Charles Putney Langhorne, a twin b. 1852 who died at birth but whose sister

  1. Viriginia Alice, twin of Charles, grew to marry Charles M. Cassell of Virginia Tech fame.
  2. Frances, Fannie married Wallace Wolford Spangler and had six children who became quite famous in their own right. There have been many interviews written of her son, the famous State Legislator Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler, and the musicians including son John Watts “Babe” who became the famous “Old Virginia Fiddler” on the radio in Richmond, Virginia. Her daughter Mary Josephine married a cousin Dudley “Babe” Spangler who was also a renowned fiddler and recording artist of the area. At the reunion, we were pleased to have Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler’s sons Harvie and Pat Spangler with us, as well as his granddaughter Betty Smith, daughter of Tump’s son Thomas, who told us some family stories. Dudley and Mary Josephine’s three children, William Wallace Spangler, Bernice Spangler Irvin, and Margie Spangler Cartwright were with us as well. We also had grandchildren of Lila Ann Spangler present. The Spanglers played music, directed our tours, recited original poetry of their own and their Mom’s, and enriched our experience beyond compare!
  3. Sarah Elizabeth Langhorne died at age eleven, 1857-1868.
  4. Mary Omohundro Langhorne, 1860-1952 married William Caldwell Shelor first, and Charles Davis DeHart second. She had nine children like her parents.
  5. Nancy Armistead Langhorne, 1863-1917 married William Pinkney Howell and they had seven children.
  6. Evaline, Evalyna, or Evelyn Langhorne married Walter Thomas Houchins and had seven children. She is this author’s great-great- grandmother and the reason this particular reunion was organized. Having started researching my family tree, I studied the Langhorne family whom I had heard of my whole life, but few of whom I had ever met. My mother knew them well it seemed, but our family never took the chance to visit the Meadows of Dan. My father was in WWII, his parents lived with us, there were four children, life was busy! Suddenly, I am in my sixties and through my research I meet the Spanglers! Last year I attended their biannual reunion, and went home buzzing with the desire to introduce the rest of my mother’s family (she was one of seven herself) to the Spanglers. Not being well myself, I decided to organize a reunion of the groups I knew, the descendants of the sisters: Fannie Langhorne Spangler and Evelyn Langhorne Houchins! The rest is now history, but we hope to expand to include descendants of all nine Langhorne children in the future.
  7. Ernest Lindsey “Jack” Langhorne, 1879-1953, was actually Steptoe’s grandson, but was adopted by him for various reasons. He married Mary Susan Blackard and they had fourteen children! One of his great- grandsons, James Callaway Langhorne has distinguished the family by writing a book that was published this year titled The Virginia Langhornes. It is a book full of history, pictures, and genealogy! His research has proven along with some others, that the Langhornes were not from Wales afterall, but originated in England, with our first ancestors reaching Virginia in the mid 1600’s, John and Rebecca Carter Langhorne. He was planning to join us and speak with us at the reunion, but a bad bout of strep throat sadly prevented his attendance.

Because the famous Langhorne/Astors, and in Patrick County the Spanglers are the family so well known, I’d like to tell you a bit about  Evelyn Langhorne Houchins’ descendants. Her six living children were born and raised in Patrick County, Virginia. Unfortunately, upon the early death of their mother in 1900, they were scattered with relatives or in boarding schools across the state. Only three of the six had children.

One of her daughters, Julia Elizabeth Houchins Nichols became an attorney and the first assistant District Attorney in the state of Virginia. She had a grandson, great-granddaughter, and great-great-grandson at the reunion! Her grandsons are also talented musicians as well as the greats! In the family are gifted and courageous firefighters and emergency personnel who can save your life!


One son of Evelyn’s, Guy Maurice Houchins, had two children, both of whom moved to Oklahoma, with Guy Jr. becoming a Geophysical Engineer with an attorney daughter Sarah Stuhr who was present with us at the reunion! Guy’s other child, a daughter, became the famous actress, Mary Stuart Houchins (went by Mary Stuart) who played the character “Jo” or JoAnn Tate on the Soap Opera “Search for Tomorrow” which ran on CBS for 35 years!


Another daughter, my grandmother kate, Katherine Steptoe Houchins Kerse (pronounced Kearse) became a nurse and raised seven children in Richmond, Virginia with her police officer husband Thomas P. Kerse. All seven of those children are now deceased, but nine of her grandchildren from all over the country attended with greats and four great-great-grandchildren present at the reunion!  She would be so proud! They included  Roger Buck, PhD geophysicist college professor at Columbia (Pat Spangler, grandson of Fannie Langhorne is a PhD Geophysicist Professor Emeritus from the University of Florida, and remember the Geophysicist Engineer son of Guy Houchins, grandson of Evelyn Langhorne.) Three geophysicists in one family, that’s amazing to me!

There are lawyers, landscapers, computer specialists, other teachers and college professors, financial planners and several tax advisors. Contractors, musicians, realtors, and generally good people abound. I believe I counted at least six PhD’s among the Spanglers and the Houchins present from these branches of the Langhorne family!  I was a family therapist by profession-every family needs one! Actually, three of us in this branch of the family taught/now teach children with emotional/behavioral disorders. There were several other teachers, and two special education supervisors in these branches. Just in case you’re wondering, just like our country, we are split politically. That might lead to lively “discussions”, but the music in our souls unites us and reminds us of our love of family.

We are thankful to our homeland of Patrick County for hosting us, to the many proprietors who were especially hospitable to us like Shep and Angie Nance and Melissa Turman at the Woodberry Inn & Restaurant and many others.

If you are interested in more pictures and stories of this family, you can find them on Helen Holshouser’s blog at heart2heartstories.com.





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Trouble When First Cousins Marry? Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne- 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #14


Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne, 1790-1854, is my generation’s third great-grandfather. Born in Warwick County, Virginia, he died in Roanoke, Virginia, and was the son of first cousins! Today we are taught that custom is not a good thing to do genetically. In those days, families often fostered the marriage of cousins to keep prestige, land and money in the family. The Langhorne family had all three at that time. Notice historically, Henry was born after the Revolutionary War, when spirits were high in America, and died before the Civil War began. This is the pedigree line of our family tree showing Henry’s descent:

To see this relationship clearly, click on the trees above to enlarge them. Locate Capt. John Langhorne, 1695-1767, and his wife Mary Beverly, b. 1678.  who had two sons and one daughter. Both sons can be seen clearly in our family tree above, because both are our 5th great grandfathers! Their daughter was Lockey Langhorne, b. 1723, brothers were Col Maurice Scarsbrook Langhorne, b.1719, and Maj. William Langhorne, b. 1721, both fought in the Revolutionary War. 


Col. Maurice S. Langhorne, 1719,  married Elizabeth Trotter and they had six children, among whom Elizabeth, 1758-1818 became our fourth great-grandmother by marrying our fourth great-grandfather, Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne, 1760-1797. John was the son of Maj. William Langhorne, 1721,  and Elizabeth C. Scarsbrook, 1731–with William being the brother of Col. Maurice Langhorne. Elizabeth, 1758 and Maj. John S. Langhorne, 1760, children of brothers, had a son, Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne, 1790-1854 who became our third great-grandfather, and father of James Steptoe Langhorne, b. 1822–whose family is getting together for a reunion this August, 2014. ( Leave a comment if you want to know more about the reunion.)

According to many public records available on ancestry.com and other genealogical sites, but most importantly in a recently published, 2013, book by James Callaway Langhorne entitled  The Virginia Langhornes, a History, including genealogy, Henry married twice and had 13 children. This book can be purchased from the Historic Sandusky Foundation in Lynchburg, Virginia, http://www.historicsandusky.org/  We are happy to announce that James C. Langhorne will be present at our Langhorne reunion next August! For an autograph,  you must purchase your book ahead of time.

Following is a story, author unknown, circulating on the genealogical  websites, that tells us  about the amazing intertwining of the first families of Virgina:  

“The younger brother Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne, 1790, would surpass them all (his brothers). Although he was first seated on some Cumberland County,Virginia land 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’ (in fact, called Homony 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 Hall’, and Anne Steptoe who married Samuel Washington (brother  of our first President George 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 by his mother’s first husband William Aylett.  The first sister, Mary Aylett, married Thomas Ludwell Lee, and the second Anne Aylett became the first wife of Thomas’  brother 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 loner 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, Amherst, and Campbell counties, Virginia. 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’.  Henry’s eldest son John Scarsbrook Langhorne, b.1819, married  Sarah Elizabeth Dabney of ‘Edgemont’ a great-granddaughter of William Randolph II of ‘Chatesworth’. John inherited Langhorne Mills, along with the bulk of his father’s estate.  John also became the grandfather of Lady Astor, Nancy Witcher Langhorne through his son Chiswell. The second son, James Steptoe Langhorne, b.1822 (and our 2nd great-grandfather) was given an ample number of slaves and the 13,000 acre ‘Langdale’ plantation located near the border of North Carolina.”  (Today this plantation would be in Patrick County, Virginia.) You might enjoy reading my former post about James Steptoe Langhorne at this link. 

Langhorne, Henry Scarsbrook's home, The White House in Botetourt Co.,Va.

Home owned at one time by Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne called “The White House”, located in Botetourt County, Virginia Source: picture, “The Virginia Langhornes” by James C. Langhorne, information from “Places Near the Mountains (Botetourt and Roanoke Counties, Virginia) by Helen R. Prillaman

Cousins, and more cousins, brothers and sisters, did it cause any health issues?  Possibly, but we do not have a lot of proof at this time. We are told that blindness from the inherited degenerative eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa,  affected many members of the family. However, it seems to have come down through the Steptoes/ Callaways  into the Langhorne family perhaps. It seems that Frances, wife of Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne, 1790–daughter of James Steptoe and Frances Callaway lost her sight, as did three of their children, including our own second great-grandfather James Steptoe Langhorne, b.1822, and several of his children including Frances Eunice Langhorne (called Fannie) and her sister Evelyn Langhorne.  Fannie, b.1854, had her first eye surgery in Philadelphia, PA when she was only 23 years old!   Her sister Evelyn, b.1866, was going blind  before her death in childbirth at age 34. One of Evelyn’s children, Harry Langhorne Houchins was blind, and I and one other cousin have severe vision problems. I would appreciate anyone who can identify family members who were blind, or becoming blind, letting me know who that is in a comment here or on facebook, by email, or in person. 

Diabetes is another disease that is prevalent in this family system. Four of six of Evelyn Langhorne’s children were diabetic, four of seven of her grandchildren, and three of four in my own family. I do not know other records. 

There is another disease, porphyria, that is present  in the family.  I know of one cousin today who has it and is beginning to reach out to others to educate us.  She has identified a few Langhorne family members who have died from this disease up to 100 years ago!  In his book, The Virginia Langhornes, James C. Langhorne tells us that our own third great grandfather, Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne, ” for more than ten years of his life, was the victim of a slow, wasting disease,” could this have been porphyria?  Porphyrias are a group of rare, inherited or acquired disorders of certain chemicals in our body that normally help produce porphyrins. The disease can cause neurological complications, or skin problems  and is often accompanied by abdominal pain, vomiting, neuropathy, muscle weakness, seizures, depression and anxiety, even paranoia. Cardiac arrhythmias and tachycardia may develop as the autonomic nervous system is affected. Our cousin with this disease wants to be sure we all know what kinds of things can trigger the disease, and sent this for us to consider (source- the Mayo article cited above):

  • Triggers that can cause an attack (from the Mayo Clinic article cited below):
  • Drugs (barbiturates and sulfonamide antibiotics are most often cited, but others such as tranquilizers, birth control pills and sedatives also may cause symptoms)
    Dieting or fasting
  • Smoking
  • Infections or other physical stress
  • Stress
  • Alcohol use
  • Menstrual hormones
  • Sun exposure
  • Excess iron in your body

You can read more about this disorder at the Mayo Clinic site online at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/porphyria/basics/definition/con-20028849.  Again, if  you have this disease,or any other inherited disease, or know of anyone related to the Langhornes who does, please let me know privately so that the family can stay informed. Iif  you leave a comment asking me to get in touch with you privately, I will. 

How amazing to learn that you descend from such illustrious families!  It is hard to believe sometimes, as I go about my very modest lifestyle, that once upon a time, my family were wealthy, influential leaders in my home state of Virginia! Lest you think I don’t recognize their strengths–let me tell you, they are an intelligent group of people with many professors, lawyers, engineers, artists, musicians and people with other incredible talents! Their strengths, weaknesses, and character run through our veins–and I hope my children, grandchildren, and ad infinitum will profit from knowing these stories and these people! 

Wishing you the best in your discovery of your own family history, and hoping  you will share those stories and journeys with me, Helen










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James Steptoe Langhorne- Born into Wealth and Privilege, moved into a Life of Trial and Tragedy—52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, #3


James Steptoe Langhorne– 11 September,1822– 4 December, 1905 –was my maternal 2nd Great Grandfather.  The Langhornes were our “claim to fame” as far as our family relations! At least that is what we were raised to believe! My mother was one of six girls, and three of them carried the Langhorne name as a middle name, Mom carried Steptoe as her middle name—and named one of my brothers Langhorne as well!  Now that I have done a few years of research, yes, the Langhornes were impressive as a family, but we are blessed with a rich heritage of ancestors.

Lady Astor—Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor was probably the most famous Langhorne.   She is my second cousin, the grandchild of Steptoe’s brother John. In another post I’ll explain how helpful she was to my family directly.

Today, I want to tell you a bit about James Steptoe Langhorne. Before I do, I want you to know that we are planning a Langhorne reunion in June, 2014, in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, and are hoping to include as many Langhorne descendants as possible—but especially the descendants of James Steptoe Langhorne! (If  you are reading this and are a Langhorne descendant, please get in touch at helenholshouser@gmail.com)

Originally, the Langhorne family was from Wales. The first in our line to come to America was John Langhorne, who arrived in Warwick, Virginia –the Royal Colony—in 1666 with his wife Rebecca Carter. They built a 2000 acre plantation with a home overlooking the James River, and named it Gambell.  It was located where the city of Newport News, Virginia is today. 

Fast forward, 100 years to his namesake John Scarsbrooke Langhorne, who was born in 1760 on the very same plantation, Gambell.  By the time this John Scarsbrooke Langhorne died, he owned several plantations, and his son Henry increased their holdings significantly. According to family history, Henry let his son James Steptoe Langhorne choose one of the plantations, and after touring them all, James Steptoe, age about 22, looked out over the 13, 000 acre “Langdale” plantation in Meadows of Dan, Virginia , and said it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen! In fact, he is credited with giving that area its name, Meadows of Dan—located in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, on the Dan River. He chose to settle there, but was blinded by retinitis  pigmentosa – an inherited  family disease– within just a couple of years—and never  actually saw his beloved land again!  MOD, lover's Leap

Langhorne,  James Steptoe Langhorne, portrait           Langhorne,  portrait of Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro Langhorne

James Steptoe Langhorne, called “Grandpa Steptoe” by his grandchildren, married Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro and together they had eight children, and adopted at least two more.  Of course, on a 13,000 acre plantation in 1822 Virginia, Grandpa Steptoe owned slaves. It doesn’t matter how abhorrent and embarrassing this practice might be to me today, it is a part of our history. Most of the area around the plantation was settled by small independent farmers of Scotch Irish descent. James Steptoe Langhorne and his wife are credited with the gifting of land and money to found  two churches in the area, and indeed, they are buried in the cemetery at Meadows of Dan Baptist Church, one of these churches. According to family history, they also held Sunday school and regular school classes on the plantation for area children. My understanding is that Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro was a very devout woman who was dedicated to her Sunday school outreach.  

 Langhorne, James Steptoe's Grave Marker

When Grandpa Steptoe’s first born son, Henry Ellis was sixteen, 1849-1865, he drowned in a pond on the property. The story was told to me by one of my cousins who still lives in that area, Harvey Langhorne Spangler. Apparently, one of the horses had a bad case of colic, and the common practice to help heal the condition, was to help a horse swim off the cramps. Henry Ellis we are told took the horse into the millpond with that very intention! Unfortunately, he did not realize just how deep the pond was, and he and the horse were soon in trouble, unable to stay afloat or climb out of the water! Steptoe was right there, but blind long before this, he couldn’t see exactly what was happening with his son.  Still, he dived into the pond to try to save his Henry!  We are told that Grandpa Steptoe dived again and again trying to find Henry and bring him to safety! Tragically, by the time Steptoe did find him, Henry was gone—the end of an all too shortened life! Blind, one son drowned…what else?

Langhorne Mill 5

During the Civil War there was an incident, where the Union Army came through the Meadows of Dan. In 1935, Steptoe’s daughter Fannie, (Frances Eunice Langhorne who later married Wallace Wolford Spangler and became the parents of Tump Spangler whom  I wrote about before,  here if you’d like to see it:  https://heartofasouthernwoman.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/the-spangler-reunion-part-2-charles-langhorne-tump-spangler/ ) gave an interview about this very thing that was written up by Charles F. Adams  in a local magazine called The Mountain Laurel.

 “At the time Miss Fanny Langhorne was ten, and the Civil War was being fought, Stoneman brought his Yankee army from Tennessee down what is now the J.E.B. Stuart highway. In passing they annexed one of Mr. Langhorne’s horses which happened to be his favorite. He, though blind, accompanied by his small daughter Fanny, insisted on following the army to Stuart in search of his horse. There the captain agreed to allow him to retrieve his horse if he could recognize him. Mr. Langhorne set Fanny to hunt the animal. After walking down the long line of horses hitched to the racks along the road and back again, she was unable to find him. On her return, however at one side, away from the rest, she saw her father’s mount and immediately squealed in delight. Mr. Langhorne was led over to a tall roan mare, not his, but near the one Fanny had discovered, and told to see if that were his. Fanny squealed to the contrary, but Mr. Langhorne turned to her and said, “You don’t understand the joke”. Then his hand was placed on another, his own; this time he said, “This is my horse, but not my bridle”.   (If you’d like, you can find this story here: http://www.mtnlaurel.com/mountain-memories/406-fannie-langhorne-spangler-an-interview-from-1935.html   That took courage and audacity, on his and young Fannie’s part! (This story was originally told to me by brothers, and Fannie’s grandsons: Harvey Langhorne Spangler and Dr. Daniel Patrick Spangler, PhD)       

Horses in Civil War

 There are many other stories, but one dearest to my heart, is Steptoe’s loss of his daughter Evelyn, my great grandmother. Married at just 15, with seven children already, one dead, Evelyn died in childbirth in 1900 as did the twins she was birthing!  I have written of this tragic event in an earlier blog post which can be found by clicking on this link:  https://heartofasouthernwoman.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/one-tragic-day-in-october-a-true-story/

Before she died, Evelyn was going blind with the family disease, one of her sons was blind, Fannie was blind, as were many others who were afflicted by this terrible family disease!

My own maternal grandmother, Kate Houchins Kerse, Evelyn’s daughter,  was living with Grandpa Steptoe and Grandmother Elizabeth after her mother died, when alas the house burned to the ground! What else could happen to this family!  

I wanted to know more about Grandpa Steptoe’s history and personality, and I learned that he was a loving man, committed to his family and his church.. He was also an angry man at times—ruthlessly ejecting “squatters” from his land! His morals were high, his sense of right and wrong perhaps rigid at times. Born into wealth, but living through war and family tragedy, he is an interesting ancestor, my 2nd great grandfather– I’m proud to be kin to him. 

I’m also pleased to be partof this 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge! It is encouraging me to get the stories down onpaper as I have been wanting to do! Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow of “No Story Too Small”for leading us in this challenge! http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/posts/george-debolt-old-school-baptist-minister-52-ancestors-3/          Helen



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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!