Monday, June 28, 2010

Mountain Meadows Massacre - Kenneth Rorie

Mountain Meadows Massacre – Kenneth Rorie
By Freda Cruse Phillips & Bob Fleming

In 1845, Absalom Rorie and his family arrived in present day Stone County. Followed by friends and more family the community around “Mill Creek” (Middle Sylamore at Newnata) became a thriving community long before the Civil War. The Rorie’s built and operated a grist mill and a two story saw mill that in addition to producing the regions best wagons, provided white oak for barrels, bins and barns throughout the area. Kenneth Wayne Rorie, ggg-grandson of Absalom Rorie & Sarah Jane Elizabeth Meador, gg-grandson of Hezekiah Columbus Rorie & Louisa A. Ticer, g-grandson of Newton Monroe "Newt" Rorie and Sarah Beaver is the son of Eulis and Cleo Graddy Rorie. Eulis learned to make wagons from his father Newt. Kenneth learned as a young child how to guide a team, including the meaning and use of the words, Gee and Haw.
When the Baker family started making plans to go west to join the California Gold Rush, John Tweety Baker from Searcy County purchased wagons built by the Rorie’s knowing they would be the strongest and surest, able to make the torturous trek west from Arkansas. Outfitting a wagon suitable for a cross country trek was a special order, costing around $5,000, the “Aire Steams” of the 1850’s.
In March 1857, the Baker wagon train met up with other families from the area at Caravan Springs on Hiway 7 near Harrison to begin the journey. A monument stands at the site from which they departed. Squire Beaver, after whom Beaver Lake was named, operated a trading post in Carroll County where the wagon train made its last stop purchasing final supplies for the arduous trip.
On May 13, 1857, in Alma, Ark, Parley P. Pratt, one of the 12 Mormon apostles, was killed by Hector McLean. Pratt had usurped the marriage of McLean and his wife Eleanor, taking her as his 12th plural wife leading to an outraged McLean stabbing then shooting him. Pratt died 2 ½ hours later from loss of blood. Word arrived to Utah of the murder making Pratt yet another martyr to the Mormons, who had been chased out of both Missouri and Illinois. In 1838, the state of Missouri had issued Executive Order #44 also known as the extermination order which Gov. Boggs stated was a result of “open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State ... the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description.” This order was not formally lifted until 1976. The fiery rants of Brigham Young citing the on going persecution led him to declare martial law in Utah issuing a command that they would not provide any supplies to passers through, directing followers instead to cache supplies of food, grain and munitions in the hills and caves in order to fend off aggressors. It was in accordance with Mormon policy to hold every Arkansan accountable for Pratt's death, just as every Missourian was hated because of the expulsion from there.
The following is excerpted from depositions in the National Archives given by survivors, Martha Elizabeth Baker and her brother, William Twiddy Baker during the post Civil War investigation into the massacre; “My father (George), mother (Minerva Beller Baker), grandfather (John Twitty Baker), several uncles and aunts were among those killed.” “My brother, sister and I were kept in the family of John D. Lee,” leader of the Mormon sect who attacked the wagon train, “until the soldiers came a year later upon the insistence of families here, to retrieve the survivors.” “Only 17 children under the age of 8, who were deemed “too young to tell” were spared. The wagon train was under attack for 5 days.” “We ran out of water with people dying in the hot sun from thirst as much as from wounds. There really was no choice but to surrender to John Lee who said he had worked out with the attacking Indians to allow safe passage,” “but the men had to give up their guns. They loaded us children into a wagon.” Elizabeth recalled the last time she saw her mother alive was as she was being placed into a wagon. Seeing the men wash the Indian paint from their faces, they realized these were white men, dressed as Indians. But it was too late. Given a signal by Lee, the Mormon’s turned and shot each unarmed person with whom they were walking. More than 120 innocent men, women and children over 8 years old were killed. The survivors recalled seeing their mother’s dresses worn by the Mormon women, their daddy’s guns used by the men and Brigham Young himself riding around in one of the fine carriages” made by Absalom Rorie. When the soldiers came to retrieve the children over a year later, they found the remains of the slaughtered and stopped to bury the bodies that had been left exposed, ravaged by animals. Elizabeth, Sally Ann and William’s grandma Mary came from Arkansas to claim them.
In 1864, brothers, Andrew and Hezekiah Rorie were tortured and killed along with their father Absalom by Union soldiers who were looking for Confederate troops and the powder work munitions being made in the caves of Stone County. Hezekiah’s widow Lousia Ticer was left alone to raise their young children, Martha 4, Sarah 7 and Alan 11. Their four oldest children, sons, became men and heads of the house overnight, responsible for not only themselves but their siblings and mother. Their 18 year old son Newton “Newt” Monroe Rorie had become a skilled wagon maker. In 1869 he married Sarah Beaver, niece of Squire Beaver, who had supplied the Baker wagon train. Sarah Beaver Rorie lived to be over 100. She was the oldest person attending the 1941 Folk Festival at Blanchard where she sang and played, and won the hog calling contest. The desecration and irreverence of our nation’s history continues, from the horrendous unconscionable acts of bulldozing cemeteries to renaming roads, mountains and lakes. Squire Beaver’s trading post lay’s beneath Beaver Lake. Succumbing to political pandering Beaver Lake was recently renamed Hobbs Lake.
In 2006 the movie September Dawn was released. It tells the story of this shocking piece of our nation’s history and the lengths to which people will go when they are fighting for religious freedom. A full investigation into the massacre did not occur until after the Civil War. In 1879 John D Lee was tried, convicted and returned to the site of the massacre for hanging. It was no small footnote that the Pratt murder occurred on May 13, 1857 and the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the slaughter of Arkansas’ people in the Baker wagon train occurred just four months later on September 11.
***Bob Fleming completed the research and writing on this story on Saturday night May 22nd. He died the following morning. Born in 1946 to Beulah Bryce Fleming, he is the great grandson of early Mormon settler Ebenezer Bryce (1830-1913), of whom Utah’s Bryce Canyon is named. Bob was raised as a Mormon and served as a missionary in Brazil. He was a devoted member of this community, researching and writing and photographing people and places in an effort to preserve the history of Stone County. He will be greatly missed.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Death of Peter Cornstalk III

The Death of Chief Peter Cornstalk (III)

By Freda Cruse Phillips

Ticks, chiggers and the possibility of snakes didn’t deter Cecila and me but the dead fall from last year’s ice storm did as we headed off to the base of the mountain at the back of her farm in Searcy County. We edged our way over rocks along the ledge searching for the rock box (cairn) the reported final resting place of Peter Cornstalk (III)/85. It’s difficult to sort out who is who in the Cornstalk family lineage because they were a polygamous clan of the Shawnee and Young Hokolesqua (1710-1777) the first “Peter” Cornstalk had at least 8 wives and possibly as many as 30 children. The lineage may be tedious to follow but three of his son’s are important to our local history; Young Peter (I) born 1744 by his 1st wife Helizikinopo and Peter (II) b. 1755 and John Wolf b. 1750 by his 2nd wife, Ounacona Moytoy. Young Hokolesqua Cornstalk of Chalakatha/Mekoche (Shawnee) lineage became Chief of the 20 tribe Northern Confederacy in the Ohio Valley in 1755 serving until his death in 1777. He was the first “Chief Peter Cornstalk”, given the name by whites due to his height of over 6 ft 6 and his flowing white hair, “Cornstalk”.

His son Young Peter (I)/44 married Elizabeth See, his adopted white sister, the daughter of Chief Peter’s 5th wife Catherine Vanderpool Sharp and Frederick See (Seay). Young Peter (I)/44 and Elizabeth had White Wing, b. 1770. She became the third wife of Tecumseh. Young Peter I/44 was Tecumseh’s father in law and Peter II/55 and John Wolf/50, White Wing’s uncles.

Chief Peter’s second wife was Ounaconoa Moytoy (1718-1758), mother of Black Beard born 1735, Black Wolf/41 John Wolf/50, Peter Jr (II)/55 and Susannah/57.

Black Wolf fathered a child with Jenny Sellard Wiley, captive white woman. She reportedly gave their son to Black Wolf as ransom to return to the whites. Then reported the Indians had tomahawked the child. That child is Chief John Black Wiley, Wiley’s Cove now Leslie, Arkansas.

Peter (II)/55 married Mary Francis Avery (Avey)/b. 1764, ½ white and half Shawnee who had been raised by Chief Peter’s 5th wife Catherine See (Seay). They had Peter/85.

John Wolf/50 married a Shawnee woman with whom he had a daughter, Black Poddee/85 and sons Henry Clay/90, John Wolf Jr/92 and Peter Wolf/94.

In 1826 at Norfork, Arkansas, Wolf House, John Wolf Cornstalk/92 married his second wife Nancy Jane Avey/05, the daughter of his cousin Chief Peter III/85 and wife Mary Frances Avey. John’s brother, Peter/94, married Mary Adams. Brothers, John/92 and Peter/94 took the names of their wives becoming John Avey and Peter Adams. Peter (Avey)/85, John (Avey)/92, Peter (Adams)/94 and Chief (John Black) Wiley/87, were grandsons of Young “Chief Peter Cornstalk”/1710. The Adams descendants reside primarily in Searcy and Marion County. It is the descendants of Peace Chief John Cornstalk born 1792 aka John Avey who we find in Stone County. He settled west of Mountain View, near Big Springs.

Of greater importance is the relationship created between the Moytoy’s and the Cornstalks with the marriage of Young “Chief Peter” Cornstalk to his second wife, Ounaconoa Muskrat Moytoy. Ounaconoa’s brothers and uncles were of the Principal Chiefs, members of the 1730 Delegation to King George II. Their portraits hang in the British Royal Museum in London. Ounaconoa‘s brother Fivekiller, a member of the delegation, married Tame Doe. Their daughters, Nancy Moytoy, Beloved Woman of the Cherokee, married Bryant Ward, and Elizabeth Kittegusta Moytoy married Chief John Walker. Caty Walker, grand daughter of Chief John and Elizabeth and niece of Ounaconoa and Chief Peter/1710, married David Fulks, the first of the Fulks to arrive in Arkansas along with Peter Cornstalk Jr (III Adams), John Wolf Cornstalk/92(Avey), Peter/94 and the Wards around 1820. Elias Fulks, son of David and Caty, married Martha Houston Grigsby, a cousin to brothers, General Sam Houston and John Paxton Houston, first clerk of Izard Co, buried at Athens, 3 miles south of Calico Rock. Although many Cherokee came through Arkansas on the Trail of Tears (1831-1838) these Shawnee and Cherokee came here voluntarily, were not assigned roll numbers and contrary to belief most did not leave when the 1817-1828 reservation ended. The Native Americans who moved here voluntarily were among the first to circumvent the U.S. patent laws by adopting the white man’s names and thus patenting land as such. It is the fear of the loss of their land that for years forced silence and denial of their ancestry upon the people who moved here.

Chief Peter (1794) settlement known as Sequatchee was located on Bear Creek in Searcy County. Some say the creek is named due to the abundance of bear in the area, while others say it is due to the fact it was the location of the Bear Clan of the Shawnee of whom Peter was Chief. Cecilia Wood who lives in Mountain View, was born and raised north of Marshall where she retains ownership of a portion of the former Shawnee land not far from Bear Creek. She is the descendant of Peter Adams Tyler, son of Baker Tyler and Agnes Adams. Peter Tyler married Eveline Minerva Price daughter of Elizabeth Brewer and Buck Price, believed to be a relative to John Price who settled Bull Pen Holler in Stone County around 1820 and the Brewers of west Stone County.

According to Shawnee Heritage by Don Greene, “In 1841 Chief Peter Cornstalk (Peter III/85) was killed in Kansas by Peter A. Tyler, a former family friend.” Both family and local stories report that while at a tribal gathering near where the Buffalo and White River’s converge, Chief Peter (III) became enraged when a child stepped on a stick at the fire circle flipping fire sparks onto him. Chief Peter (III) in anger struck the child killing him. Realizing what he had done he fled. On the decision of the convening chiefs, members of Chief Wiley’s clan (Wiley’s Cove, now Leslie, Arkansas) along with Peter Adams Tyler pursued Chief Peter (III) into Kansas.

The Adams family bible lists as brothers, Matthew and Robert Adams. Robert Jr. is the first white settler of Searcy County. Mary, Robert Sr’s daughter, married Chief Peter/94 in 1826 at Wolf House. Matthew’s daughter, Agnes Adams married Baker Tyler, parents of Peter Adams Tyler. Therefore Mary’s first cousin Agnes’ son, Peter Adams Tyler, killed Chief Peter Cornstalk (III/1785), the cousin of Mary’s husband “Chief Peter Cornstalk”/94.

Little is known as to what transpired that they did not bring him back alive other than Chief Peter (III) was killed by 18 year old Peter Adams Tyler. The body of Chief Peter (III/85) was brought back to the Bear Creek settlement for burial. He is reportedly buried in an above ground three sided rock box, cairn, at the face of the mountain overlooking Bear Creek Valley. Tyler’s Bend located on the Buffalo River, north of Marshall is named for the Tyler family. Peter Adams Tyler was one of the men marched to Little Rock in chains as a member of the Searcy County Peace Society which then included most of west Stone County. He died during the Civil War at Bowling Green, Ky.

Descendants of Chief Peter Cornstalk Adams, Chief John Wolf Cornstalk Avey, Walkers, Wards, Fulks, Grigsby, and many others continue to live in the White River Valley.

Please contact Freda at 870 213 5015 or if you have any information regarding Native American descendants


Cecilia Wood on her farm near the burial site of Chief Peter Cornstalk (III)/85

Daniel Peter Avey (1858-1899), son of Jacob Avey (1835-1880). Jacob is the son of John Wolf Cornstalk (Avey)/92 and 2nd wife Nancy Avey/1805, married 1826 Wolf House.

Dulcie Avey Kirby holding the original photo of her grand father Daniel Peter Avey. Her father was his only son Charlie LeRoy “Lee” Avey. Dulcie is the “double” GGGG Grand daughter of Young Hokolesqua “Chief Peter” Cornstalk 1710-1777, Principal Chief 1757-1777 due to the marriage of cousins, John/92 and Nancy Avey/05

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bob Fleming 1946-2010: Partner with Freda Cruse Phillips and the EIC Crew in Preserving and Promoting the History and Heritage of White River Valley

Bob Fleming's passing was a complete shock to us all. Though I did not know him well personally, I had the pleasure of his company on a couple of occasions as we explored the White River Valley region with him and his fiance, Freda Phillips. While the pain of his early departure from this life runs deep with our blogging/exploring partner, Freda...the fact that I and the rest of the EIC/ESC Crew will not have the opportunity to get to know him better saddens me greatly.

He was a good companion for our dear friend and a welcome additional voice for our efforts at EIC and ESC.

Thank you, Bob, for your devotion to both Freda and the efforts to preserve our area history and culture!

Bob Fleming's Obituary is as follows:

Bob Fleming 1946-2010

Robert "Bob" Jarvis Fleming dedicated son of Beulah C. Fleming was pronounced brain dead on Monday May 24th 7:35 am following treatment for blood pressure at a West Plains, MO hospital and med flight to St. Johns in Springfield. He wa botn Jan 21, 1946 in Long Beach, CA. He served as a missionary for the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Brazil from 1965-1967. Bob attended both U.C.L.A. and Cal State Fullerton where he graduted in 1970 with a degree in English. He served his country as an officer during the Vietnam War in Germany from 1972 to 1975. Bob moved to the Ozarks of West Plains MO in 1976 and continued to operate Fleming Foto for 34 years, taking countless photographs of families and friends, and the mills of Southern Missouri which was his passion. Bob was a world traveler and loved sharing his treasured writings with friends and family. He enhanced his natural charisma with his love and passion for music and art. Bob's spirit will continue to thrive in the work he has left behind and the many lives he has touched all over the world. He was a vital part of the community of Mountain View. He had been working with Freda Cruse Phillips, interviewing, photographing and videotaping hundreds of musicians and people documenting and presering the history of the White River Valley. They had two major projects underway "Mountain Music Project" a photographic exhibit of Stone County musicians and "Places of Our People", the second book in their series, The Vanishing Ozarks. Bob was an organ donor. He was cremated and returned to Big Springs Cemetery in Caulfield Mo for a private graveside service May 27th. His extended family of friends in Stone County held a Memorial Service on Sunday May 30th in which Bob's military service was recognized with taps played by Court of Appeals Judge Jo Hart, Col. Judge Advocate General (ret), services conducted by David Campbell, arranged by Beverly Dunaway with music by John and Terri Van Orman and Connie and David Powell. Supreme Court candidate Karen Baker fought back tears as she spoke of the time and dedication Bob had given to her campaign without compensation. Although Bob can be seen everywhere in Mtn View, from photos at Country Time and Tres Amigos to the weekly articles he helped write, he was vital member of our community and he will be missed.

He is survived by his fiance, Freda Cruse Phillips, Mtn. View, Arkansas, Beulah Fleming, West Plains, MO, daughters Nicole Codling of Vermont, Cherice Togun of Florida and son Nathan Fleming of Caulfield, MO, former wife of 30 years, Arlene Arnold, five grandchildren, Hali Codling, Isabella, Issac and Carolina Fleming and Matheus Togun of whom he was immensely proud. He is preceded in death by his adopted father, Richard Fleming and his brothers, Stephen and Leo.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

West Richwoods Schoolhouse

Pictured below is the West Richwoods School. The school, which has also served as a church as evidenced by the cross perched upon the belfry, was built in 1921 by Albert Huebbler, a craftsman of German descent who built several other structures in the county. It's design is set apart from other schools in the county by the "splayed entry" with double doors as opposed to the more common two-door configuration most common in the surrounding hills.

This one-room school building, which lies just off Highway 9 a few miles south of Mountain View, is in the old Richwoods community where Stone County's own Jimmy Driftwood was born and raised.

The site is listed in on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Burning of Rorie's Mills (Part 2)

Donna Wilson - The Burning of Rorie's Mills Part II

By Freda Cruse Phillips

Short of emergency deliveries and home births, Donna Wilson is one of the last people actually born in Stone County. Delivered at Dr. Burton’s Clinic on Main Street, she is the daughter of Charlie and Joyce Gullett and the GGGG grand daughter of Absalom Rorie who in 1845 brought his family here from Hardin Co, TN, 165 years ago. She serves as Stone County Clerk.
After arriving here, Absalom and his wife Sarah (Meador) set about building a huge two story saw mill followed by one of the first and most prosperous grist mills in Stone County. These gave upper Middle Sylamore Creek its present day name of Mill Creek. Timber, logs and lumber were floated down the creek to White River where they were loaded onto steamships headed to Memphis and New Orleans. A small community was starting to grow including Aaron Stevens and his family, Jonas Brewer and his wife Margaret. Roasting Ear Creek did not exist until several years after the Civil War, when following a huge storm a new creek was pushed forth out of the mountain flowing through the Steven’s and Brewer’s cornfields taking the “Roastin’ Ears” with it. After the flood, Roasting Ear Creek remained.
Absalom’s business and family were thriving as talk of Civil War became a reality. In 1860 Arkansas required each county to maintain a militia; J.J. Kemp of Riggsville (Mtn. View) was appointed Colonel of the Izard Co Militia, a title he earned in the Civil War and maintained the rest of his life. A huge expanse of land with just over 6,000 residents it included present day Stone County and Mt. Olive was the county seat. May 6, 1861 Arkansas seceded. The Confederate Congress urged Ark to make provisions for the manufacture of arms and munitions, including saltpeter for the cause of the South. In June 1861 the Military Board of Ark ordered the county judge, sheriff, and clerk of each county to serve as a commission to procure supplies for Arkansas soldiers; H.H. Harris, age 34 (Melbourne) Judge, W.J. Cagle, age 31 from Riggsville (Mtn. View), Sheriff, W.C. Dixon age 29 (Mt. Olive), Clerk served for Izard Co.
In July 1861 Absalom and Sarah’s 21 year old son, Absalom Josiah “Jody” Rorie joined the Confederacy as a Private in the Ark Infantry. On Aug 21 the steamboat New Moon arrived at Sylamore with cargo of 30 huge kettles, a steam engine and a hammer mill to produce gunpowder for the Confederacy. They were brought up the North Fork of Sylamore Creek to what became known as Gunner Pool. White oak baskets carried on the backs of oxen led into Saltpeter Cave were loaded with bat guano. The guano was placed in the huge kettles by the creek and boiled, leaving the saltpeter at the bottom. Charcoal made mostly from cottonwood was ground in the hammer mill powered by the steam engine. Sulphur was added to produce a more accurate shot. The Confederate Gov sent infantries to work and guard these powder works. As steamships loaded and unloaded cargo and supplies for all of North Arkansas to aid the munitions effort the river port town of Sylamore (Stone Co) became a critical location in the Civil War. The road from Sylamore, which parts of can still be seen today in the Ozark National Forest, led through the mountains crossing the Buffalo at Spencer Point then north on to Yellville and from there to Missouri. In the spring of 1862, Union Gen Curtis invasion of Izard Co began with skirmishes at Calico Rock and Mt Olive, with 20,000 plus soldiers spread out from Pocahontas to Yellville searching for the Confederate powder mills located throughout our hills in the many caves. He issued an order “If you can’t bring it with us, burn it.”
On May 29, 1862, Gen. Curtis sent 300 men under Major Drake and Major Bowen of the 3rd Iowa Calvary with two mountain howitzers to Sylamore. They were after Rebel’s camped in Kickapoo Bottoms, (between Livingston Creek and Jack’s Boat Dock). The Union, firing the mountain howitzers at them from the east side of the river, ran about 45 men out of a cane break, killing one and wounding two others. A mountain howitzer is a mini-cannon easily packed by one mule with cannon balls about three inches in diameter. For years well into the 20th century the three inch “mini” cannon balls were plowed up in the river bottom fields of Stone County. Curtis’ invasion was a war against the population as a whole. In order to save official records, county clerk, W. C. Dixon, hid them in a cave.
The burning and pillaging of homes and churches was intended to produce beggary of the local population. Grist mills and agricultural equipment, private salt works, and other manufacturing were destroyed. The cartel of prisoner exchange suspended. No preaching allowed unless the preacher had taken the Oath to the Union. No traveling permitted without a pass. No marrying allowed and parents forbidden to name their children after Southern Generals. Military governors appointed. The atrocities of Yankee Rule enacted in Izard County surpassed what was known in other parts of the Confederacy largely due to the well hidden munitions efforts.
In Nov 1863, the drought was having harsh effects. With no fall rains, the river was low, just barely running, crops and gardens failed. In Jan 1864, Maj Gen Sterling S. Price commissioned Col. Thomas R. Freeman to raise and maintain a regiment for the Confederates in North Arkansas. The weather fell to 10 below zero and stayed there. The river froze over so thick loaded wagons could cross over it. Orders received “Sat, Jan 23, 1864, Batesville, Ark Hdq 1st Nebraska Cavalry to Lt. Col William Baumer. You will proceed immediately and attack every Rebel encampment you find. Move via Hookrum, Lunenburg, Sylamore. Shoot every Rebel soldier you find in Federal uniform and destroy all armed Bushwhackers. On North Fork of Sylamore you will find and destroy a powder mill operating there. Should the town of Sylamore be occupied and fire upon you, burn them out. The object of this expedition is to destroy Freeman.”
NEXT WEEK Part II The Burning of Rorie’s Mills

*Contact Freda at 870 213 5015 if you have information and family stories on the history of Stone County