Another Saturday Night Story: June 2008


Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Watts Hays Letters

I have spent most of the week reading the Watt Hays letters website. There is reference to Eliza Hays Word, and her mother
Phoebe Stevens Hays affectionately known as "Aunt Feeby". All of the Hays and Boone families are all first cousins of mine. Eliza and Phoebe were my 2nd and 3rd Great Grandmothers.

Please enjoy this website as much as I have. A big thank you to Marian Franklin, the author of the website, and another first cousin of mine.

The Watts Hays Letters

Havea Good Week

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Ledo Road

My fathers brother was Albert Boone Rice. We called him Uncle Bert, and over the years, I only met him a few times when I was a child. I wished I was older when I met him, I am sure he would have had lots of stories to tell. Uncle Bert served during WWII in Burma, now called Myanmar (pronounced myahn-mah). Family notes say he help build the Burma road during his stay in Burma. For those that don't know, it was one of the most deadliest duties during the War. Many of our American soldiers died there, if not from gun battle then from decease. The following is the story of the Burma Road from Wikipedia.
Our Uncle Bert has passed on now, he may be gone now, but not forgotten.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ledo Road, (from Ledo, Assam, India to Kunming, China) was built during World War II so that the Western Allies could supply the Chinese as an alternative to the Burma Road which had been cut by the Japanese in 1942. It was renamed the Stilwell Road (named after General Stilwell(U.S.)) in early 1945 at the suggestion of Chiang Kai-shek. After Rangoon was captured by the Japanese and before the Ledo Road was finished, the majority of supplies to the Chinese were delivered via airlift over the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains.

In the nineteenth century British railway builders had surveyed the Pangsau Pass, which is 3,727 feet (1,136 meters) high on the India-Burma border, on the Patkai crest, above Nampong, Arunachal Pradesh (then part of Assam). They concluded that a track could be pushed through to Burma and down the Hukawng Valley. Although the proposal was dropped, the British prospected the Patkai Range for a road from Assam into northern Burma. British engineers had surveyed the route for a road for the first eighty miles. After the British had been pushed back out of most of Burma by the Japanese building this road became a priority for the United States.

On the December 1, 1942, British General Sir Archibald Wavell, the supreme commander of the Far Eastern Theatre, agreed with American General Stilwell to make the Ledo Road an American NCAC operation. It was built under the direction of General Stilwell from the railhead at Ledo (Assam, India) location to Bhamo on the Burma Road so that supplies could reach the railhead at Mogaung. It was built by 15,000 American soldiers (60% of whom were African-Americans) and 35,000 local workers at a cost of US$150 Million. 1,100 Americans died during the construction and many more locals. As most of Burma was in Japanese hands it was not possible to acquire information as to the topography, soils, and river behaviour before construction started. This information had to be acquired as the road was constructed.

General Stilwell had organized a 'Service of Supply' (SOS) under the command of Major General Raymond A. Wheeler, a high profile US Army Engineer and assigned him to look after the construction of the Ledo Road. Major General Wheeler in turn, assigned responsibility of base commander for the road construction to Colonel John C. Arrowsmith. Later, he was replaced by Colonel Lewis A. Pick, an expert US Army engineer.

Work started on the first 103 mile (166 km) section of the road in December 1942, followed a steep, narrow trail through territory from Ledo, across the Patkai Range through the Pangsau Pass, nicknamed "Hell Pass" for its difficulty, and down to Shingbwiyang, Burma. Sometimes rising as high as 4,500 feet (1400 m), the road required the removal of earth at the rate of 100,000 cubic feet per mile (1800 m³/km). Steep gradients, hairpin curves and sheer drops of 200 feet (60 m), all surrounded by a thick rain forest was the norm for this first section. The first bulldozer reached Shingbwiyang on 27 December 1943, three days ahead of schedule.

The building of this section allowed much-needed supplies to flow to the troops engaged in attacking the Japanese 18th Division, which was defending the Northern area of Burma with their strongest forces around the towns of Kamaing, Mogaung and Myitkyina. Before the Ledo road reached Shingbwiyang, Allied troops (the majority of whom were American-trained Chinese Divisions of the X Force) had been totally dependent on supplies flown in over the Patkai Range. As the Japanese were forced to retreat south so the Ledo road was extended. This was made considerably easier from Shingbwiyang by the presence of a fair weather road built by the Japanese, and the Ledo road generally followed the Japanese trace. As the road was built, two 10 cm (4 inch) fuel pipe lines were laid side by side so that fuel could be piped instead of trucked along the road.

After the initial section to Shingbwiyang, more sections followed: Warazup, Myitkyina and Bhamo, 372 miles (600 km) from Ledo. At that point the road joined a spur of the old Burma road and although improvements to further sections followed the road was passable. The spur passed through Namkham 439 miles (558 km) from Ledo and finally at the Mong-Yu road junction, 465 miles (748 km) from Ledo, the Ledo road met the Burma road. To get to the Mong-Yu junction the Ledo road had to span 10 major rivers and 155 secondary streams, averaging one bridge every 2.8 miles (4.5 km). For the first convoys, if they turned right, they were on their way to Lashio 100 miles (160 km) to the South through Japanese-occupied Burma, if they turned left Wanting lay 60 miles (100 km) to the North just over the China-Burma border.

In late 1944, barely two years after Stilwell accepted responsibility for building the Ledo Road, it connected to the Burma Road though some sections of the road beyond Myitkyina at Hukawng Valley were under repair due to heavy monsoon rains, and it became a highway stretching from Assam, India to Kunming, China 1,079 miles (1736 km) length. On January 12, 1945, the first convoy of 113 vehicles led by General Pick from Ledo reached Kunming, China on February 4, 1945. Over the next seven months 35,000 tons of supplies in 5,000 vehicles were carried along it.

Have a Good Week

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Marriage in the 1700's

Marriage in the old days was not quite as easy, as it is today. You had to pay a hefty bond for marriage, the whole family, on both sides, made a commitment, and was court ordered after bond payments were made.

Mathew F. Wallis was my 4th generation Great Grandfather.
With the onset of war in 1775, Virginia began to train an army to defend against a British invasion. Fifers and Drummers were an important part of the eighteenth-century military. Just as Virginia enlisted soldiers and stockpiled arms and ammunition, it also trained Fifers and Drummers to work with soldiers in the field. Mathew Wallis was a Fifer.

Matthew F. Wallis married Sarah SMEED on 5 Jan 1787 in Wake County, NC. At that time, in 1797 it cost 500 pounds for a Marriage bond. Here is more history on Marriage Bonds.

Marriage Bonds were first required in North Carolina by the Act of April 4th, 1741.
This act provided that:
... every clergyman of the Church of England, or want of such,
and lawful Magistrate, within this Government, shall ... join
together in the holy estate of matrimony, such persons who may
lawfully enter into such a relation, and have complied with the
directions herein after contained ... No Minister or Justice of
the Peace ... shall celebrate the rites of matrimony ... without
license ... or thrice publication of banns as prescribed by the
rubric in the book of common prayer." "License must be
issued by the Clerk of the County Court of the county where the
female shall have her usual residence. The prospective groom, in
order to obtain this license, must make a bond with sufficient
security in the sum of fifty pounds proclamation money, with
condition that there is no lawful cause to obstruct the marriage;
if either of the persons should be under the age of twenty one
years, consent of the parent or guardian must be had.

This act provided an alternative provision in lieu of bonds, the use of banns. This may account for the absence of marriage bonds for many marriages which are known to have taken place. If the banns were properly published, according to the rubric and the customs of the Church of England, a marriage might take place without license and consequently, without a bond.
The Act of April 4th, 1741, was confirmed in 1749. In 1766, the Presbyterian, or dissenting clergy, were permitted to perform the ceremony. They had been doing this for some time, apparently illegally. Finally, in 1778, it was enacted that all regular ministers of the gospel of every denomination, having the cure of souls, and all justices of the peace, were authorized to solemnize the rites of matrimony according to the rites of their respective churches and agreeable to the rules in this act prescribed.
In 1778, provision was again made for marriage by license or by banns, published three times by any minister of the gospel. The amount of the bond required for the license was raised to five-hundred pounds lawful money of the State.

In the Revised Statutes of 1836-1837, the amount of the bond was raised to $1,000. In the revised code of 1854, the regulations remain the same. Marriage bonds were in effect for North Carolina until repealed in 1867. This same law that repealed the bonds, also stipulated that the Clerk shall keep a register of marriages for that county.

Have A Good Week

Saturday, June 07, 2008

'Shadows Over My Shoulders' Revisited

From left to right: top row is Leslie, Jack, Virginia, Bert, bottom row is Lloyd Rice, my Grandfather Pappy, Kenneth(Pete),my Dad, Ira Belle Word, my Grandmother,Mamaw.

Nancy Caroline Gaddy and Albert Pike Word

This week we are revisiting my blog post January 6, 2007. With our new Gaddy cousins now copied on the blog, I thought it important to post my Grandfathers stories of the area we now call Elk City, Oklahoma. His father Boone Rice settled not far from their in the Oklahoma run of 1892. The land was wild and free during those years, after all, Oklahoma did not become a state until 1907. There were no roads, but only trails up through those parts, when the Rice family settled there. Lloyd Rice and his twin brother Leslie, were only six years old when they made that trip from Polk County, MO. The Word family settled later just down the road. Please enjoy!

My Grandfather was Llloyd McMehen Rice who married my Grandmother Ira Belle Word. The records from LDS, and the Social Security index indicate that Lloyd Rice was born June 14 1886. I believe this to be untrue. The following notes left by my Grandfather, include short stories of the Rice family journey from Polk County, Mo, to the Arbuckle Territory of Oklahoma in 1889. From these writings, himself, and his twin brother Leslie drove the wagon, and mustered the cattle from behind during this journey. He had served in WWI, and when all of his sons had been sent off to War during WWII, he himself enlisted again, lying about his age. I suspect my Grandfather was born around 1880 or 1882, five years prior to his birth date given to the Social Security Administration.
I remember my Mamaw and Pappy as very kind and gentle people. Mamaw would always have a candy dish for the kids. You guessed it!! Filled to the rim with lemon drops. I remember when I was twelve or fourteen years old, spending some time with Pappy. We went fishing everyday. He drove that old red Ford Galaxie to Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City. He would wear beige pants and a red and white plaid shirt, and he wore this big straw hat. We would pack a lunch, and he would pack a beer, or two. We would stop and get minnows, but he preferred the old "Catfish Charlie" stink bait most of the time. We never caught a fish. But we enjoyed the sun and wind hitting our face. He would tell fish stories about the big ones that got away, and give a hand gesture to his forearm to show the length of the fish. This was a lot of work for a man in his seventies. I know he enjoyed every minute of his time out fishing. I remember Mamaw had this coffee table with a glass top, and kept pictures of all us kids there, it was always full of new pictures. Pappy had this old standing ash tray with the Masonic Emblem on it, and of course there was always a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes there too. I suppose he smoked till the day he died.
These words to follow written by my Grandfather and transcribed later by my Uncle Jack, will always be embedded in my mind. I have read it many times over the years, and each time, the stories, giving me a different visualization of the good times and hard times, the old and the new. A different story is found each time I read these musings. Daniel Rice

These words were written in longhand, with pencil, by my father....during the days after his 80th year. He gave them to me in a small black memo book and ask me to type them for him. I am sorry I did not get them finished before he went to see, "The Old Man with the Long White Whiskers" during his 84th year.....God Bless Him!
Lloyd M. Rice Jr.

July of 1979

Lloyd McMehen Rice Sr.
June 1, 1886 - July 3, 1970
The West was won by a Man on a horse. Here he is. I hope you like him. He is on a horse, a big black horse. A horse named Tom. Tom is tall, leggy and the kind of black that doesn't fade with the seasons.
The Man is also tall. More than six feet, He wears "Duckins" and a faded shirt covered by a black vest. He wears a slouchy white hat. Booted feet are in stirrups. Under that slouchy, dirty hat is a bearded face and VERY blue eyes.
As he rides Tom across a green valley, he stops at the top of a red hill. He can see for miles down the valley and stands in the stirrups and looks in all directions. He must have liked what he saw, as he said to himself. "Yes, this will do. I will go for my family and my cows."
He often talked to himself. He looked back over his shoulder and promised these red hills that he would be back.
This is the way it was. I was there. The Man was my father.
Somewhere among these scribblings you will learn how we stopped and stayed among those red hills. Here I spent my boyhood, my youth and my young manhood.
It was a raw and untamed country in those days, but to me and mine it was and still is the most wonderful country in the whole wide world! Yes, the West was won by a Man on a horse .... followed by a Man with a plow, a team of mules and a roll of barbed wire¼..and that ended the cattle range.
In spite of what you may be thinking, the Man we saw on the big black horse did not wear a "six-gun" on his hip. He rode with a 44 carbine Winchester in a gun boot on the side of his saddle.

"What did Delilah do with her shears after she gave Samson his haircut?"

The house on the Old Homestead sat a short distance off the old "Cheyenne Trail" over which all the freight for all the country North and West of there was "freighted". There were no fences, no bridges and the trail followed the "divides" between the creeks, canyons and rivers. It started always at the end of the railroad and went North and West, right by our Homestead.
Father had a windmill on the place, which furnished an everlasting stream of pure, cold water. So, all the freighters, all the hunters of homes, all the outlaws, all the people who were running from "you guess what" came by our Homestead¼ different times we met Frank and Jesse James, Temple Houston and others who were nameless. They stopped, drank our water, watered their horses and slept in my fathers house, ate his bread and went on their way.
Let me sit on the banks of a lake with a fishing rod in my hand. Let the wind blow around me and let the sun shine in my face.
Have you ever watched a gull or a tern fall straight down out of the sky like a rock falling and come up from the water with a fish in his claw?

Genesis: ll.1 " And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech."
While you are running this mad rat-race that we call life, you had better slow down once in a while and look behind. The Old Man with the Long White Whiskers and the Scythe may be gaining on you!

May the Good Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand, make your trail all down hill may the sun shine in your face and the wind stay at your back.
Our Lord rode into Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed Burro...was crucified, died and was buried in a borrowed grave.

Someone has said that Man's life span is "three score years and ten". Today I reached four score. During these four score years I have done and seen many different things. I have lived in a dugout with dirt floors, walls and roof. I have lived in a tent. I have lived out-of-doors with only the ground at my back and the sky for a roof. I have lived in rat-holes .... sometimes called "apartments". .... So what, "Four score years"!!!???
I have fed cattle in blinding snow and sleet storms! Walked a hundred miles, leading a saddled horse to keep from freezing to death So what, "Four score years"!!!???
I have ridden many miles through dust storms, looking for a recognizable Landmarking; many miles along drift fences looking for shelter, and finally found it...So what, "Four score years"!!!???
I have ridden all day looking for water for me and my horse ....finally finding a spring...poisoned. So what "Four score years"!!!???
I have been thrown off a freight train in the dead of night and walked till daylight and then asked for breakfast at a back door...So what, "Four score years"!!!???
I have attempted to ride broncos that no one else would try...and landed on my face in the dirt. I have fished and hunted through all these years and have loved every day of it. I have worked for others, and have owned and operated my own business. I have worked for my government. I have proudly worn the uniform of my country, together with my three grown sons and the husbands of my two daughters, and we all made it back home again. Some were a little the worse for wear, but we all made it….So what, "Four Score years"!!!???
Today I live in a modern house with the same woman I started with more than sixty-two years ago, and I still have my three sons and two daughters, with fifteen grandchildren and one great grandson. Today I mow my own lawn, help care for the flowers, raise a small garden and go fishing every day the sun shines and there is beer in the ice-box!! So what,
"Four Score years"!!!???

I wonder what became of the little boy who gave our Savior the loaves and fishes which he Used to feed the MULTITUDE????
May the Lord bless you and everyone in your house.

Since three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and only one-fourth is is clear to me that the Good Lord intended that man should spend three times as much time fishing as he does mowing the lawn.

Our Arrival in a New World
The sun was still a couple of hours high on a warm winter day, father, who was driving the lead covered wagon, stopped his team. He climbed down over the front wheels of the wagon, walked out a few yards onto a small hill and looked out over the rolling prairie. He pointed to a cottonwood tree about fifty yards away to the North. He came back to the wagon and helped my mother to the ground and walked her to the tree. In a few minutes he came back to the second wagon, pulled by four horses and driven by my twin brother. The wheel horse was saddled and one of us rode it while the other drove. Sometimes one rode a horse and herded the cattle following behind the wagons. He told us to follow him and we drove past the tree to a bit of higher ground and camped. There was a spring near the tree. We unhitched the horses, hobbled them and other loose stock, and put up the tent. My mother spread the benches in the tent and we soon had a good fire going, using wood brought from the previous night's camp. We checked the animals after a good supper, prepared over the campfire and then we all, my youngest brother inside the tent with Mother and Dad, the rest of us outside, went to sleep. Little did we know that we would spend the next year and a half in this camp in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma.
My father put one-by-twelve boards around the tent on the ground and piled dirt against them to keep the wind and water outside. He also put a 'brush arbor' over the front entrance for some shade. We placed a small enclosure inside a single barbed-wire fence to hold the animals. Our father rented forty acres from a homesteader who lived a bit East of us and planted it in feed for the horses and cattle.
And so, with a few improvements, such as cleaning out the spring under the cottonwood tree and making an enclosure to keep some chickens (which my Mother got from a settler), we "settled in" our new home.
Thus, our tall, blue-eyed father and our short, black-eyed mother established a home, as many other settlers were doing in that year of 1892. It was a long way from Missouri.

We children did not know, nor did we care, that our father would go a few miles West of the 'tree camp' and homestead one hundred and sixty acres...and that we would build a real home (after a year and a half in the camp) in the edge of the "Red Hill" country of Roger Mills. On this claim, we three boys spent the remainder of our boyhood and most of our youth.
After this claim was completed and we were grown (almost), I met a neighbor girl, married her and, after three children born on this original homestead, we left...but that is another story.

More, SHADOWS OVER MY SHOULDER, continued .....

We three boys, my twin brother and myself and the 'little one', grew to manhood on the old homestead. Then they drifted away. .oh, they returned for visits often, but they never lived there again.
It seems like we lived on the old ranch for a lot of years (we still own it) and I try and go back at least once each year and look around. It seems that the red hills get higher and the canyons get deeper every time
I see it. But, I have never seen a more beautiful country than this in the spring, with the hills covered with prairie flowers, the hills always seem to me to be looking for someone...could it be three small boys chasing coyotes on painted ponies? Between the hills are the green valleys where the best grass in the world grows. I remember when it grew as high as the shoulder of a boy on a pony. As I stop my car on a hill overlooking the site of the old ranch house, the hills and the valleys resemble a varicolored saddle-blanket spread out over the world. As I sit in this modern machine that covers more ground in a day than the old wagons did in months, I get a wave of homesickness. I look, but I cannot see, three small boys who lived, worked, rode and played among these same age-old hills so long ago. Here they grew to manhood: the freckled twin and the youngest went out into the world from here. They lived their lives and are both buried far from the red hills they both loved so much. My tall, blue-eyed father and my short black-eyed mother are buried in the old country graveyard just a few miles from the old ranch...I stop and say hello to them each time I go back. Most of the old neighbors (pioneers), who made the land what it has become, are buried with them. The land is again a cattle ranch. However, there are no small boys chasing coyotes to their dens in this modern age.

YEAH !!!!
News reports say Dallas "resents" Ruby. Resenting seems to be the biggest thing Dallas does. First, it was Vice President Lyndon Johnson and his wife. THEY were "resented" so much that the people pushed and shoved them, knocked their hats off and trampled on them. They "resented" Adlai Stevenson, one of the greatest workers for world peace we ever had, Dallas "resented" him so much that they manhandled him, slapped his face and spat in his face. Then one of the Dallas "resenters" bought a rifle, some ammo and a sandwich, sat down in an easy chair and, as the President of the United States drove by, he shot him dead. Now they "resent" Ruby, one of the head "resenters".' Resenting is the biggest thing Dallas does...Big D...Big R!

Here is what I saw six small bottles of catsup do:
On the first trip we made to the new country, my twin brother and I drove four horses hitched to a covered wagon. One of us rode the 'left wheel horse' and drove the team of lead horses. Our father drove a two-team hitch pulling a covered wagon ahead of us. On this day, Father became uncertain of the trail, (as it could not be called a road). We finally met a tribe of Indians, Cheyenne’s, moving everything they owned on "wicki-wakis" behind their ponies. Father attempted to talk with them about the "road". They refused to talk. We finally came to where the trail divided, one going Northwest and the other due West. We finally came to a Indian Trading Post, our fellow travelers still not talking. At that time it was known as "Seger's Post". Today it is the site of the town of Colony, Oklahoma. We stopped at the store and my father bought six bottles of catsup. Stepping to the side of the trail, he held out a bottle of bright red mixture. The first Indian to pass attempted to grab the bottle. My father finally gave it to him. .and, after the brave had drunk the catsup, held up a second bottle, and gave him the catsup only after talking for awhile. After the sixth bottle had been disposed of, my father had talked to a number of Indians and decided he had learned the correct trail to where we were going. Afterwards, he remembered he might have purchased the entire reservation for one more bottle of catsup!!!
We lived for several years near the reservation and they called my father "Man with Whiskers Good Brother". We three boys rode with the young Indians all over the countryside.

Do you believe in dreams?
During World War I, when my twin brother was in France and stationed at a base hospital near Verdun, site of one of the longest and bitterest campaigns of that terrible war, where "They did not pass". While he was there (I did not know where he was) I had the same dream night after night. I could see my brother walking along a bluff above a stream of deep, black water, The trail was slippery and the side of the bluff was covered with large stones and strung with barbed wire. At the crest of this bluff, fighting for his footing, I seemed to see my brother (I was in a tree). As I reached for him I never reached him...he never fell, but a hundred times I thought he would...this was a recurring dream, every night for months. Finally, I received a long delayed letter from my brother. He had moved on. After returning home in the Fall of 1918, he spent some time with me. I described my dream. He said that he knew exactly where it was (the bluff), just below the base personnel were forbidden to go there, but he and some others went, to get away from the war for a time. They slipped down and looked around. He was told that 1,000 men had died attempting to climb that bluff!! After the first visit, he said they never went back again.
Do you believe in dreams? Neither do I!!!

When my work is ended and I am called by the Lord...Grand Architect of the Universe (Masonic), to cross that river to "that home of many mansions not made by human hands". HE will find me sitting in peace, "under my own vine and fig tree"

Last week I stood on the site of the old ranch house where I grew up and spent the last part of my boyhood, my young manhood, married and started my own family.
There is nothing there now, just some large stones are all that is left of the foundation of the original "shack"; the lumber of which it was built was hauled one hundred and fifty miles from the end of the railroad. As I sat there, on one of the stones, my thoughts went back a lot of years. Where I sat people had been born and had died...long gone, they had laughed, talked and suffered. Here, "once upon a time", my father, mother and three half-grown boys had stopped for a place to call "Home".
Here we had "pitched camp" and my father and mother lived out their lives. Two of those half-grown boys are now gone. I, alone, am left to sit on a stone and "remember". As often as I can, I visit this "site of what was once a home". On my way out, I stop at the "grass-grown" and wind swept hill where, with many other pioneers, my father and my mother are buried. You would, perhaps, say it was a wild and lonely place, but to me, it is BEAUTIFUL. It is covered with the original stone and in summer, brown in winter…wild it it was in the beginning. My people and all those other pioneers would have it no other way.

Another thing: What became of the little burro that Mary rode from Nazareth to Bethlehem? Or the Swine that "dined on husks with the Prodigal Son? Or the "little" man that climbed a sycamore tree to see his Lord? Or the Roman Soldier that lost his ear in a meeting with Peter?

Who stole the rock I sat on while I ate a "bowl of beans"? Who sawed off the limb the Wise Old Owl sat on for so many years?