52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Family Legend

It’s Week 33 and the theme is Family Legend.

Every family has at least one legend, one story that has been passed down without any sort of substantiation.  Folks just take them for granted and accept them as the gospel truth.

For example, nearly every family has three brothers who immigrated to the Colonies together. One went south, one went west, and one stayed along the east coast.  Almost never true.  Nearly every family has an “Indian Princess” in there somewhere (we certainly do, a couple of times).   There’s even less likelihood for there to be even a germ of truth or drop of native blood in that one.

But, here’s one that I actually tried to figure out whether or not it could be true.

Lida Cason Higgs and Will Higgs – Wedding Photo

Meet Lida Cason Higgs.  This is her wedding photo, taken with her new husband, John William “Will” Higgs.  They were married in 1889 in Arkadelphia, Clark County, Arkansas.

Lida was a strong, strong woman.  But she came from a strong, strong family.  Her parents had gone to Africa as missionaries in 1856.  Her father served as a Chaplain and then a Captain of Infantry in the Civil War.  Her mother kept the family while her husband was away at war and while they moved across Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas serving churches and working to evangelize the Native Americans in west and central Texas.

Lida and Will and their children moved to southeast Oklahoma shortly after statehood, where Will worked in the newspaper business.  When he died at a relatively early age, leaving young children at home, Lida picked up and did what she needed to.  She taught school and continued the work at the newspaper.  When her son’s wife died shortly after the birth of her first child, Lida stepped in to help raise that little boy and to travel west with her son as he pursued work.  She just kept on through lots of difficult circumstances.

But what of the legend.  First, you need to know that Lida’s actual given name was Eliza Johnson Cason.  Where in the world did that come from?  No one in the family was named Johnson, much less Eliza.  In fact, this part of the family has had a long tradition of Betties.  Well, in Lida’s father’s Bible, there was a notation that Lida was named for the woman who nursed her father back to health after he lost his arm in the Battle of Bean’s Station in the Civil War.

Rev. Jeremiah H. Cason
Rev. Jeremiah H. Cason, Baptist missionary and preacher, Captain, 41st Alabama Infantry, CSA

That sounds like it needs a little background.  Lida Cason Higgs’ father was Rev. Jeremiah H. Cason.  J.H. Cason was born in 1832 in Wilson County, Tennessee.  He answered the call to preach when he was just nineteen years old.  He and his wife Bettie Cooper Cason were part of the first supply of missionaries that the Baptist church sent to the Yoruba Country in Africa.

After his return, he served churches in Tennessee and Mississippi.  When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted as a Chaplain.  After a short time, he resigned and then reenlisted in the Infantry, quickly rising to become Captain of Co. C, 41st Alabama Infantry, a part of Gracie’s Brigade.

In December, 1863, J.H. Cason was indeed a part of the Battle of Bean’s Station in east Tennessee.  And he lost his arm in this battle due to a bullet wound.  His left arm was amputated above the elbow, but he survived and lived another fifty years.  Jere Cason died in 1915 in Royse City, Texas.

So, if the notes in the Bible detailing how and where Jere lost his arm were right, could there be some truth to the idea that Eliza Johnson nursed Jere back to health?  I am not sure how certain we can be, but here’s what I have found.

The Battle of Bean’s Station took place near the town of Bean’s Station in Grainger County, Tennessee on 14 December 1863.   On a hunch, I took a look in the census for that area in 1860, as close as we can get to the date of the battle.

Sure enough, according to the Census, Larkin Johnson lives near the site of the battle and he has an unmarried 26-year-old woman, presumably his daughter, named Eliza, living in his household.  Looking backward, we find the same family in place in 1850 as well.

By looking at the estate records for Grainger County, we find that Larkin died in 1865.  In 1870, we find Eliza, still unmarried living in the household of a William Johnson who is a few years her junior.  The 1860 Census lists a William (presumably a younger brother) in the house then, too.  So it looks like Eliza is living with her younger brother and his family.  Both she and he show up on the Agricultural Schedule of the 1870 census as farm owners, presumably from the (missing) distribution of their father’s property.

In 1880, we again find Eliza, still unmarried, listed as sister-in-law to John G. Brown.  His wife is Elizabeth and there is an Elizabeth Johnson in the family in 1860.

What does all of this tell us?  Well, it can tell us that this family really is a family.  It can tell us that Eliza Johnson really lived, lived adjacent to the battlefield at the right time.  Can it tell us that she served as a battlefield nurse?  No.  Can it tell us that she tended J.H. Cason after he was wounded?  No.  Can it give us circumstantial evidence that this legend could be true?  Absolutely!  The story talks about a person that we likely have found.  And one thing I have found to be true.  When Jeremiah H. Cason wrote something down or said something, it was by-golly the gospel truth.  So, in true Mythbusters style, I would call this family legend proved “Probably True”.

Now, if I can only find those three brothers and where they went….


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Youngest

The theme for week 32 in my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Youngest.

Let me introduce you to my mother’s father’s youngest sister, Marion Wren.


In this picture, Marion is the smiling bundle of excitement on the floor in the middle of the picture.  She looks like a happy little child, doesn’t she?

Marion Wren was born 5 Jun 1904 in Sutton, Nevada County, Arkansas.  She was the third child and third daughter of Sam Scott Wren and Pearl Hudson Wren.  Her two older sisters, Mildred and Norvelle Wren, adored her and talked about her often.

Look closely at the picture.  It looks like Pearl is pregnant.  That would be the soon to be born Henry Hudson Wren, my grandfather.  He was born 18 July 1906 in Sutton.

Little Marion’s story is short and sad.  The family lived out in the country and had fires for heat in the house.  One day in November, after her little brother, Hudson, was born, Marion was playing with the baby in his crib.  She was just two years old herself.


I guess the crib must have been near one of the fires or stoves.  As Norvelle and Mildred told it, little Marion was leaning over the crib and her little skirt brushed through the fire, caught fire, and she was burned to death.  She died 24 Nov 1906 and was buried at Harmony Church Cemetery in Nevada County, Arkansas.

Even though she had a short life, over eighty years later, her sisters still talked about her smile.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Oldest

So, it’s the first week of August, 2018.  This blog has been neglected for far too long.

I am going to try to jump into the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, even though this is week 31.  The idea of this is to write about an ancestor each week throughout the year.  Amy Johnson Crow (http://amyjohnsoncrow.com) helps by providing a bit of a prompt each week about what to write about.  That way, this isn’t just a dry listing of birth, marriage, death and random facts.

This is Week 31 and the prompt for the week is “Oldest”.

Rolling pin handed down through the Bailey family

I’ve been hugely blessed to be the current keeper of many family artifacts.  I think the oldest artifact that’s tied to my family history is this rolling pin.  Legend has it that it was carved from a single piece of apple wood in 1760.

It comes down through my Council line into my Bailey line, and ultimately to me.  I received it from my cousin, Michael Bailey.  His father, Norman Bailey, was the brother of my grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson.  Susan received it from her father, Charles Council Bailey.  Charles received it from his mother, Sarah Louise Council Bailey.

There’s where things start to get a little sketchy.  Sarah Louise Council bailey-0214-f-v00-Sarah Council Baileywas born 29 Jan 1837 in Alabama, according to family records dating from the mid- to late-1800s.  I can find her in Madison County, Alabama in 1850 in the home of her parents, Uriah Allison Council and Louisa Anna Green.

In 1858, Sarah married John Oliver Brewer in Arkansas.  How she got to Arkansas is something I have not yet really got a handle on.  Her father died in 1851.  So, between 1850 and 1858, she ended up in Arkansas, either with or without her mother.

Sarah and John had two children, a son and a daughter.  The daughter, Mary Angeline Brewer, died as an infant.  The son, Phillip Dodridge Brewer, went on to be instrumental in the creation of the Supreme Court of the new state of Oklahoma.

John enlisted with the Union Army in northwestern Arkansas, but died in hospital in Fayetteville within months.  This left Sarah a young widow with a young son.

In 1867, Sarah married Hume Field Bailey, a widower with children of his own.  Sarah and Hume had six children of their own, with Charles Council Bailey being the eldest.

But, what about the Councils?  As far as I can tell, Uriah Allison Council’s parents were Isaac Council, born 1785 in North Carolina, and Susan Allison Moore, born 1786 in North Carolina.  They were married in 1806 in Roane County, Tennessee.  Eventually, they moved down the mountain ridge from East Tennessee to northern Alabama.  I assume that the rolling pin made that same trip.

And the rolling pin?  Well, this is a family of practical people.  What would you usually do with a solid wood rolling pin that was two hundred years old?  My grandmother made biscuits with it every day I was at her house, that’s what!  I think that’s what Sarah Louise Council and all of those Councils before would have wanted.  They don’t want to sit on the mantel and be admired.  These ancestors want to be active parts of our lives.    I’m hoping that this 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project will help bring more of them into our daily lives.