UNUSUAL FAMILY STORIES! of White &Cleburne Co.)

This page is for interesting or unusual family stories. Some have been passed down by word of mouth so you may have to do a little research to prove or disprove them. If you have a funny, interesting or unusual story, please e-mail it to me to add to this page.

(The following is from Helen Nichols Battleson)
A Newspaper Clipping dated 28 March, 1951, in White Co., AR: "Strolling, with Eldon Roark: "On the road from Romance to Joy'. Professor Walters named the town of Romance, AR ca 1884.
A White Co., AR book at SLC FHC, p. 99 on towns and how they got their names; "ROMANCE", On June 10, when the place got big enough to think of having a post office, the people were hard put to find a name. It has been said that a local school teacher suggested "Romance" because the area was so romantic looking. The name has never been changed, neither has the village, except maybe a little smaller every year.
Here is his line as I have it to date;

1 Joseph Jackson Walters b: August 22, 1852 in VA d: December 18, 1908 in White, AR
. +Effie Stiles b: 1861 in MO d: May 22, 1899 in probably, Kentucky Twp., White, AR m: March 30, 1884 in Hot Spring Co., AR
........ 2 Lela Walters b: May 1886 in Rose Bud, White, AR d: Aft. June 04, 1900
........ 2 Myrtle Mae Walters b: January 1888 in Rosebud, White, AR d: July 26, 1938 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
............ +Walter Layne Robbins b: April 1886 in Rosebud, Kentucky Twp., White, AR d: April 05, 1982 in Yuba City, Sutter, CA m: 1910 in White, AR
........ 2 Bessie Edna Walters b: February 1890 in Rose Bud, White, AR d: Aft. June 04, 1900
............ +Calvin Zeno Holt b: in probably, Rose Bud, White, AR
........ 2 Euel Walters b: December 1894 in Rose Bud, Kentucky Twp., White, AR aka: Euel Walters
*2nd Wife of Joseph Jackson Walters:
. +Emma Stiles m: May 15, 1901 in Hot Springs, AR

(The following from (Patrick R. Nelson, Ph.D.) to whom we would like to express our gratitude!)
Dear Bonnie: I found parts of an old letter sent to my mother some years
ago by a cousin. The letter describes some of the family history from
White County, and I thought you might find it interesting.
The first 4 pages of the letter are missing.

P. 5 has small map of Ark. with Center Hill and Searcy marked.
(p. 5)
"Meanwhile...In 1902 Joseph Mack Sullivan, a widower with seven children, moved to a farm near Center Hill, Arkansas. His family:
George, born 9-5-1882 (d. 2-8-1968)
Jess, born 8-12-1886 (d. 12-26-1917)
Ira, born 6-29-1888 (d. )
Nora, born 12-15-1893 (d. 7-30-1966)
Lena, born 5-1-1895 (d. 7-11-1965)
Mattie, b. 3-3-1897 (d.)
Jack, born 4-2-1899 (d. 6-2-1958)

They built a new farmhouse and every Sunday they drove into town to attend the Baptist Church.

There Joseph Mack Sullivan met, courted and married LouElla Tennessee Norman Kellum, a widow with a four year old daughter:
Edna, born 6-30-1899 [This is my (Pat's) grandmother]
Ella and her small child had been living with her parents, William and Nancy Norman, since the death of her husband and son in a tornado."

(p. 6)
p. 6 has an inserted, handwritten note on it, apparently from Lucille (Lottie Lucilee, b. 2-17-1907, Edna's half sister):
"Paul Tanner Sullilvan, son of Littleton Isbell Sullivan & Mary Hamilton Calver, was born Sept. 30, 1838 and died Feb, 14, 1881. He married Margaret Caroline Bell in 1857 (exact date not known). Joseph Mack Sullivan was born on March 28, 1858 at Coldwater, Tate Co., Miss. He died June 16, 1916, Center Hill, White Co., Ark."

The author continues:
Ella and Edna were accepted warmly into the Sullivan family and in a few years there were three baby girls: Alice Irene, born 11-2-1905
Lottie Lucille, born February 17, 1907 (Pat's mother?)
Florence Belle, born 6-23-1909
These were happy times for the family. Grampa Norman was a
gentleman farmer with a fine horse and carriage and the contract to
deliver mail on the rural route. Five of the Normans eleven children were
living at home. They also shared their home with Granny Newton, Grandpa
Norman's mother.

p.7 has another insert, this one typed, apparently of Lucille's memories;
"My only memories of her [Granny Newton] are of a tiny,
white-haired lady in a black dress always sitting in a small oak rocker
that was lifted into the wagon on Sunday mornings with her sitting in it
and was lifted out and carried into the church the same way. Frequently
the preacher was her oldest grandson, my uncle George Norman...

My other memory of Granny was the stories she told of the Civil
War when she was left alone on the farm with three small children when her
husband went to fight with the confederacy. Bands of roving soldiers or
possibly marauders often came by the farm and ordered her to cook meals
for them. Silver, money and other valuables had to be buried underground
in order to keep them from being stolen."

The author continues:
In 1911 Lucille's mother was again expecting and the pregnancy was
complicated. The baby was stillborn and Ella, 39, also died. Lucille was

Shortly after the death of his wife, Lucille's father bought a
larger farm which they called the Sparrow Place...

another typed insert;
"The new home was much more attractive than the old one mostly due to the
huge oak and cedar trees surrounding it. The large barn was across the
road and the cow lot was just south of the yard. There was a covered well
house with an adjoining shelter where the clothes washing was done. There
was a large black iron kettle nearby. Fires were built under it and the
white clothes were boiled in it. The girls used homemade lye soap that was
a combination of lye made by running water through a hopper filled with
wood ashes, and grease. Nuts and fruits grew wild in many places. There
was a creek just back of the cow lot that was a favorite spot for us to
play. We arranged play houses in the nearby woods with tree stumps for
tables and wild grape vines for swings. We had horses, cows, geese,
chickens, hogs, two good dogs and a pet squirrel in a cage. In the spring
the breast feathers were plucked from the geese to renew our feather beds.
It was a job of the younger girls to catch the geese and sometimes we got a
good flogging in the process. The geese didn't like goose picking time any
better than we did.'

(page 8)

The Author:
"Those early school years Lucille attended a one room frame school house:"

(Lucille’s' memories typed):
"There were double doors in the front and a large log flattened out
by a board on top for a doorstep. There was a bell on top of the roof
which the teacher rang at the end of recess and at the beginning of the
school day. The boys lined up on one side and the girls lined up on the
other side to march in. The bell ringer got too enthusiastic on day and
the bell turned over and became loosened and came crashing down to the
ground barely missing the small boy.

At the end of recess all the students rushed into the well house
and one of the first to arrive would send a long tin bailer down into the
water and when it was filled would wind up a windle to pull it back up and
empty it into a bucket that had two dippers from which everyone drank.
Inside the school house were rough homemade desks that seated two pupils.
There was a large wood burning stove about four feet long in the center.
It had a big drum on top and an open center to hold the heat. In could
weather as many students as possible sat around the stove.

The classes ranged from first grade through sixth. The teacher
took the class that was reciting up on a stage in front of the room.
Sometimes one of the older pupils taught the younger ones. It was a
favorite trick of some of the older pupils to toss notes through the hole
in the drum to someone at the other side of the stove. Sometimes one would
stick in the drum and scorch and it would give off a bad smell.

One day while class was in session as usual there was suddenly a
horrible noise, a pounding and rumbling on the roof. There was a stampede
for the door with the teacher leading the way and she jumped out the door
with a big leap. It was soon discovered that bricks were falling off the
old chimney and sliding down the roof.

The school situation wasn't easy for the young women teachers who
usually were just out of normal school. One day the teacher decided that
Florence was creating a disturbance and told her to go stand in the corner.
Florence didn't want to stand in the corner laid her head down on the desk
and started to cry. The teacher picked up her switch that she kept handy
and came down to the desk that I occupied with Florence and threatened her
with the switch. Then she looked around the room and saw Jack half out of
his seat and headed toward her. She decided Florence didn't need to stand
in the corner.

But if the older kids felt protective of us we also felt protective
of them. One day at recess my brother Jack got into a wrestling match with
Bud Hall and Bud soon had him pinned down to the ground and I decided Jack
needed help. So I picked up a baseball bat and walked over and gave Bud a
couple of bumps on the head. He looked up very surprised and all the older
kids watching burst out laughing. I got so embarrassed that I sat down and

(Page 9)
The Author:
"And, of course, there was also sibling rivalry:"

Lucille's memories typed:
" One day when Dr. Barker had been called out from Center Hill to
see Papa, Nora decided he should pull one of my baby teeth. I protested
long and loudly and Dr. Barker said he would take me for a ride in his new
Ford Roadster if I would let him pull the tooth. This was the first car I
had ever seen and of course I couldn't turn down that offer so I stopped
crying and out came the tooth on his first pull. And then when I ran out to
the car there was little sister Florence all ready to take a ride without
having had her tooth pulled. I thought that was a terrible injustice."

The Author:
"The Sparrow Place had a mill for extracting sorghum juice from
sorghum cane, and a set up for cooking sorghum molasses. Lucille's Papa
spent hours at this task, cooking sorghum not only for his family but also
for neighbors and friends. Unfortunately, they all paid him back in
molasses instead of cash and the Sullivan family had to eat a lot of
sorghum during the year.

This was usually a hot, tiring job and eventually Papa's health
failed. He died June 16, 1916, with all the family present, after making
Nora promise to take care of the three young girls. George was appointed
legal guardian. Nora always kept her promise, even refusing to marry so
she could look after the family."

(Page 10)
The Author:
"Some of Ella's sisters wanted to split up Irene, Lucille and
Florence and give them new homes but Nora would not hear of it.

Grandpa Norman was driving the mail route himself and was killed
in a tragic train accident. There were some legal hassles over what would
have been Ella's share of his estate. All of this upset George, who
decided to move the family out of Arkansas.

Pat Nelson
6240 Stillwell Beckett Road
Oxford, OH 45056
(513) 523-3369


Another Story from Pat Nelson (thanks Pat!)

My mother (the daughter of Nancy Edna Lorella Kellum, born in Searcy on 30
June, 1899) wrote this family story for the El Paso (TX) Times--sent in 3
June, 1986. I'm not sure if it was published. Nancy Edna Lorella was the
daughter of LouElla Tennessee Norman (1874-1911), granddaughter of William
N. Norman (1849-1918) and Nancy Naomi Newton, all of whom lived in White
County. This story took place somewhere around Center Hill / Searcy in
White County in approximately 1902.

"Peeping out from under the quilt, Nancy Edna Lorella saw someone peeking
back. At another window was another and a third, dark men with black hair
dressed with feathers, their hands cupped around their eyes to see inside.
Because the quilt in its frame barely brushed the top of her three year old
head, Nancy Edna Lorella loved to play beneath it while her mother [LouElla
Tennessee Norman], grandmother and various aunts and neighbors quilted and
gossiped. Usually, all she could see were knees hidden beneath calico from
neck to shoe top, but the knees that day were huddled together, in a corner,
shaking. Busy playing, Nancy Edna Lorella hadn't heard the neighbor ride
into the farmyard with the warning, "Indians comin!" nor seen the long
string of wagons leave the highway at their lane. Grandpa Norman [William
N.] had gone to meet them, hobbling on his pegleg up the dirt road. Talking
to a man in the lead wagon, perhaps their chief, he motioned them toward
the barns. Curious, some of them wandered over to the house. Bronzed,
befeathered and bare-chested, a young god (to Nancy Edna Lorella's
wondering eyes) rapped on the door. No more afraid than her husband was,
Nancy Norman opened it despite protests from her daughter, LouElla, and
Aunt Claire. He asked for water and, knowing Grandma would never turn away
a human in need, the protests ceased. But rather than drink the water she'd
drawn from the well, the Indian sprinkled the contents of a pouch into it.
"Drink this and you'll always have good fortune," he promised, offering it
back to her. While Aunt Claire and Nancy Edna Lorella's mother watched in
consternation, Grandma downed the potion. The man nodded in satisfaction
and strode away. Grandpa was supervising while the tribesmen loaded wagons
with hay and feed. Others filled bushel baskets with fruit from the
orchard. A cow was tethered to a tail gate, a goat or two and some chickens
were gathered, water supplies were replenished. "I only have one favor to
ask," Grandpa told them. "Don't bother my neighbors." The chief agreed and
before they left, buried a token of good luck in a corner of a field,
never to be disturbed. Maybe William Norman didn't believe in their
medicine, but he believed in his fellow man. He never allowed anyone to
dig it up. Nancy Edna Lorella was much older when she discovered why their
farm became the buffer between neighbors who panicked at the sight of
Indians and Native Americans with no free land left in which to roam. It
was in Grandma's prominent cheekbones, dark eyes and black hair. And in the
goodness in her. Half-red, married to a white man, she was true to her
heritage and a credit to his. That all happened in 1902, but Nancy Edna
Lorella remembers it as if it were last week. The Arkansas farm was sold
long ago. It may now be a subdivision, a shopping center, or interchange on
the highway system linking with points north. The charm, whatever it was,
may have disintegrated or been destroyed. Or it might still be working its
magic in untold ways. What remains is the cooperation and goodwill between
two cultures. On June 30th, Nancy Edna Lorella, now known as Edna White,
will celebrate her eighty-seventh birthday. A resident of El Paso from 1929
to 1955, she returned to stay in 1972. Happy Birthday, Mom, and many

by William R.Wynn

My grandmother, Mary Louella Watts, was the station agent & telegrapher at the Russell, Ark. station of the Iron Mountain RR (later the Missouri Pacific) in about 1880. To find a woman that had this kind of job back in 1880 was most unusual. Before becoming a telegrapher, she was the bookkeeper for her father's sawmill & lumber operation in Clay Co., Ark. She is one of, if not the most, interesting of all my ancestors. She later became a large landowner & business woman.

While serving as a telegrapher at Russell, she met my grandfather, Charles H. Crabtree, who was the station agent & telegrapher at nearby Bradford, Ark., also in White Co. There they dot-dashed a romance that finally led to his surrender to the Lady "Lou". Upon marriage, "Lou" & Charles moved to Corning, Ark. where Charles became the station agent. Corning was the location of the Watts Saw Mill, a Watts Dry Goods Store & a Watts-owned Hotel.

"Lou" returned to work in her father's operations as a bookkeeper & store manager. Unfortunately, Charles Crabtree died in about 1888 from pneumonia but not before fathering my mother, Effie Crabtree & my uncle, John Wesley Crabtree. John Wesley Crabtree settled in Clarendon, Ark.

Charles H. Crabtree was the grandson of Anderson Crabtree & Elizabeth Denton of Bledsloe & White Co., Tenn. Anderson Crabtree's (my gg grandfather) parentage traces back to William Crabtree of Baltimore Co., Maryland, who came to America in about 1705. Anderson's father was William Crabtree of Orange Co., NC. At least three of Anderson & Elizabeth's children settled in White Co., Ark. These include: Elizabeth J. Crabtree who married T. J. Patton & Sarah E. Crabtree who died in 1861. Elizabeth Denton's (my gg grandmother) parentage traces back to Rev. Richard Denton who came to America in about 1635. The Rev. Richard Denton who came to America in about 1635. The Rev. Richard Denton is acknowledged to have founded the first "Presbyterian" congregation in America at Hempstead, NY in about 1644. This ministry joined similar New Jersey and Virginia congregations in about 1707 and organized the "Presbyterian Church". Elizabeth's father was Benjamin Denton and her mother was Peggy Anderson. Benjamen & Peggy had 15 children, all of them born in TN. Of the 15 children, six moved on to Arkansas and settled in Van Buren, Pope, Prairie and White Counties.

Christopher Denton who was my gg-uncle (brother of Elizabeth) had a twin brother, James. While youngsters, Christopher and James were convicted of stealing a $3 horse and both were sent to the Tennessee State Prison. The family denied any wrongdoing. James died in prison of cholera. Christopher, after release, married Elizabeth Ann "Sis" Holmes and moved to Van Buren Co., Ark. in about 1839. Christopher & "Sis" had 7 children, all born in Van Buren Co., and some of which settled in Searcy, White Co., Ark. These include: Mary Denton who married a Benjamin Watts, Rebecca Denton who married Lewis Morrison & Sarah Denton who married a John Harness.

Elizabeth (Denton) Crabtree (my gg grandma) outlived gg grandpa and eventually settled in Searcy, Ark., living on an $8 /mo pension awarded as Anderson's survivor for his service in the War of 1812.

Christopher was murdered by "bushwhackers" in 1864. I can only speculate that he was a Union sympathizer. At least one of his brothers, John, was in the Union Army. The womenfolk buried him by candle light as they were afraid.

[Picture](go back to homepage)