An Angel Mother

Vivian Eleanora Ritchey Brown

Today is the 44th anniversary of the death of Vivian Eleanora Ritchey Brown – my husband’s mother.  The former beauty queen of Fairmont, Nebraska, married Rex Brown, a member of the United States Army Air Force in World War II, whom she met at the training base in Fairmont.  They had five children.

After the war the Brown’s settled in Independence, MO, where Rex practiced law.  He eventually decided to become a Presbyterian minister and the family moved to Washington County, Kentucky.  He attended seminary in
Louisville and served as pastor of Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church in the
northern part of the county.  After seminary the decision was made to become missionaries.  The family spent one year in Belgium, learning French, and preparing for missionary work.  When they arrived in the Republic of the
Congo (as it was called at that time, now known as the Democratic Republic of
the Congo), the children were left at a missionary school on the outskirts of Lubondai, a small rural area, and their parents moved on to another station.  Vivian saw her children only on holidays and vacations for their three year stint in Africa.  She was a wonderful teacher and cared deeply for the African children
and their families.  But I’m sure she worried about her own children in an area with mambas, lions and crocodiles – among other things! – and longed to have them close to her.

On sabbatical back in the states, Vivian was killed in a car accident while driving to an uncle’s funeral.   Everyone who knew Vivian was devastated.   She was dearly loved by all.  A niece said that her grandparents treasured every time the Brown’s’ came to visit.  She said she loved all her aunts and uncles but Vivian had a special place in her heart – she never got upset and just had an awe around her – she had the face and soul of an angel.

When the news was given to the station in Congo, everyone was stunned.  The only communication with the different stations was by ham radio at noon each day.  A minute of silence was given for Aunt Vivian, who was so beloved by all, and she was deeply mourned for a very long time.

Pleasant Grove parishioners still talk about the memories of Vivian and her happy children.  At the 150th and 175th anniversary celebrations we attended stories were told and pictures handed round of those years in the early 60’s.

Vivian’s death was especially devastating to her children.  I can attest that they received the best of their qualities from their mother – the love and care they show to others – and their beautiful smiles!  How I would have loved to meet this woman that gave me the most precious husband on earth!  But I can see her through him.  And now qualities of this special woman have been handed down not only to her grandchildren, but her great-grandchildren.  So even though she
may be in heaven, the guardian angel watching over all her precious brood, she
lives on in the legacy she left behind.

Linton Cemetery

Note by Phyllis Brown:  Captain John attended Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church a few miles north of the Linton Cemetery.  He gave some of his land when the church was built.  My husband’s father was minister of Pleasant Grove in the 1960’s.  He and his family traveled on to Belgium, Congo and Switzerland before coming back to the states.  I think it an amazing coincidence that we both have ties to Pleasant Grove.  We have been there for several church anniversaries in the last thirty years.

Washington County Burying Grounds

August 29, 1935

“All the county is a burying ground,” said one prominent citizen of Springfield a few days ago.  Meaning that scattered over the length and breadth of the county are innumerable unrecorded burial plots.  Mr. Baylor is making an effort to
locate and chart as many of these private burying grounds as are brought to his
attention.  The Sun will publish each week the data supplied by its readers and edited by Mr. Baylor.

The Linton Plot

Located on the Springfield and Willisburg Road on the farm formerly owned by Taylor Spalding.  A large plot enclosed with iron fence.  Numerous graves but few stones with inscriptions.

John Linton, Washington County pioneer, was born in Virginia in the year 1750.  He married there, raised a large family, served his country in the War for American Independence and again in the War of 1812.  In his declining years he moved to Kentucky where he settled on a tract of 2000 acres, building his home about two and one-half miles north of Springfield and on what is now the Springfield and Willisburg Road.

After he settled in Washington County, John Linton joined the Presbyterian Church in Springfield.  He was for some time a member of the board of officers thereof.  At one time, when it was proposed to discharge a debt that had
accumulated and in addition assure funds with which to carry on the work of the
congregation by charging pew rent, John Linton vigorously opposed the proposition.  “Never,” he said, “will I pay one penny for the right to sit in the House of the Lord.  You may do as you will but if you vote to charge rent for the pews I will go back to my farm, cut timber and have it made into benches, bring them in and place them about the walls of this church and me and my family and my slaves will occupy them.”  Suffice to say the proposition was rejected.

Some years before his death, John Linton went out on his land and within a few rods from his dwelling-house he stepped off a considerable plot of ground and set up stakes at the four corners.  Returning to the house he announced to the family that he had laid off the family burying ground and stated that he wanted as many of the family as possible to be buried therein, though no outsiders were to rest there.  The burial plot is yet intact though badly overgrown with weeds and briars.  Some years ago Taylor Spalding, while owner of the farm, caused an iron fence to be erected around the plot.  This he did because of a heated controversy at the time over the desecration of another burial-ground elsewhere in Washington County.  He wanted no trouble for himself or any succeeding owners over the desecration of the Linton plot.

John Linton’s children were eleven in number.  His eldest son and principle heir was John H. Linton.   Other sons were Moses, Lewis, Benjamin and William.  The names of his daughters were Martha, Susan, Nancy, Mary, Elizabeth and Catherine.  Of the foregoing William married Eliza Lyon Moran; Susan married William Moran; Nancy married Edward B. Edwards; Catherine married ____ Taylor and Mary married Captain Powell.

Edward B. Edwards died in 1824, leaving his widow Nancy Edwards, who survived until 1862, and the following children:  John, Benjamin M., Jonathan, Mary, Catherine E., Martha, Sarah and Susan.  Of the foregoing Mary married a Janes, Martha a Clarkson, and Susan a Taylor.  Benjamin M. died single leaving his property to his mother and brothers and sisters.

John Linton, before his death in 1836, deeded away much of his lands to his sons and sons-in-law.  These gifts were confirmed in his will.  His son, John H. Linton, got the home tract to hold it but two years for he died in 1838.  William Moran, husband of Susan Linton, and Edward B. Edwards, husband of Nancy Linton, got 200 acres each.

There are seven stones with inscriptions in the Linton burying ground.  These are as follows:

In Memory of

John Linton

Who departed this life

December 4th, 1836 in the

86th year of his age

In Memory of

William Moran

Who died 3rd January 1838

Aged 63 yrs 10 months and 17 days

In Memory of


Benjamin Linton


In the 87th year of his


John L. Edwards

Born October 12, 1800

Died December 23, 1883

Milly N. Edwards

Born Jun 39, 1806

Died February 25, 1873

William Linton

Eliza, Wife of William Linton

Zillah Ward Jewell

Note by Phyllis Brown:  This is a story handed down in the Ritchey family.  The copy I have is written in a beautiful penmanship.  Zillah is my husband’s great-great-grandmother.  The sheepshower leaves that are mentioned in the story are probably sheep sorrel.  Evidently they have a lemony taste – perhaps that is why they were used in a pie!

One of the beautiful quilts still in our family is the “Ocean Wave” quilt pieced by Zillah. Friends and neighbors kept her supplied with small scraps of material;
therefore her patterns were small and very beautiful.  Zillah piece quilts as though it was a salaried position.  She would get up early and work until late on her quilts.

Dark-eyed Zillah was born in Indiana in 1823; her father was Aaron Ward who was born in New Hampshire. On October 7, 1846, Zillah was married to Thomas W. Jewell.  Their nine children were born in Illinois.  In 1881 they moved to Corydon, Iowa.  A year later they traveled on to Fillmore County, Nebraska.  The trip was made in a covered wagon.  Horses and cattle were driven by the men.  (It was on this trip that grandson James Eben Ritchey learned to swear, having been encouraged by the men to do so.).

Zillah was a very busy mother and grandmother.  One beautiful June day, Zillah called her children from play and asked if they would like to have a pie for dinner.  When they replied, “Yes,” Zillah tied sunbonnets on Julie and Lucinda; all wore long sleeved dresses and shirts; the boys wore straw hats because no one wanted to be tanned.  Soon they were off to the meadow to gather sheepshower leaves to make a pie.  In fact, they often made pies of sheepshower leaves.

Zillah and her family also picked ground cherries in the fall to use for jam.  The ground cherries grew mainly in the cornfields.

One day the children were playing outside; Zillah was busy inside.  Suddenly the stillness in the house was completely broken by the rush of the children into the house.  Eagerly, Tom, the oldest, exclaimed, “Ayma ewa evoka a ookyca?” (Pig Latin for “May we have a cookie?”  Of course Zillah couldn’t understand their
strange chatter, but the children thought it was great fun.

Her grandchildren, too, liked to gather around to talk and play with her.  Her small grandsons liked to play tricks on her.  One trick was to hide her pipe, which they might keep for some time before giving it back to her.  She could become quite disgusted with them when they teased her, but she was a wonderfully kind and loving grandmother.

Many women smoked pipes at that time and Zillah and daughter Lucinda, too, had become “addicted”.  One day their supply of tobacco was completely gone and they waited at home for the men to return from town.  The men were
extremely late returning; the women had been without tobacco all day.  By evening, Lucinda decided to quit smoking.  She said, “If I can go without
tobacco for one day, then I can continue to do without.”

Zillah was a devoted reader of the Bible.  In her later years she would arise early on a Sunday, get all dressed up, and then sit by the window reading her Bible.

In her later years, Zillah suffered from cancer of the eye.  It is recorded that the cancer was caused by ill-fitting glasses.  She died at the home of her daughter, Lucinda Ritchey, in Stanton Township, Fillmore County, Nebraska.  She is buried in the Geneva, Nebraska, cemetery by her husband who had died twelve years earlier.

(Oral history as told by Zillah’s grandson, James Eben Ritchey, and recorded by her granddaughter, Mildred Beryl Ritchey, Talkington, Nebraska.)

That Elusive Maiden Name – My Great-Grandmother was a ?

Ellen Lyons Smith - My Great-Great-Grandmother - Proof!

In the generally male dominated world of genealogy, it is much easier to find a long lost great-great-grandfather than it is to find an even more lost great-great-grandmother. Other than a marriage certificate, a woman’s maiden name is listed very rarely.  Once married, it can seem that the bride had no life before that time.  It is imperative that genealogists don’t give in to that unknown and
just, well, give up!  Pieces of information can be found in sometimes unusual places.

My mother has always bemoaned her middle name – Lyons.  I love that her name is so different.  As many Catherine’s as there are in the family, at least her middle name makes her unique!  Her mother always said she was named for one of her great-grandmothers – it was a family name.  Since I had found her other great-grandmothers I knew which one it had to be.  John Smith married Ellen Lyons – there was no proof, just my assumption.  There was no marriage certificate for them in Washington County, Kentucky, so I was sure they were married in Marion County.  In the 1860 census for this county John is listed with the children – Ellen had died in September of 1859 due to childbirth. Unfortunately the marriage records for Marion County – along with the courthouse! –  were burned during the Civil War.  Shame on you General John Hunt Morgan!   You have made genealogy research so difficult for so many!  A few years later I realized John and Ellen had lived in my home parish of St. Charles Church.  Some years previous to my discovery, when the parish removed a few trees from the cemetery, Ellen’s gravestone was destroyed in the process.  I have the information from the stone from a list made years before.  When I found out the parish had some old baptismal records I looked through them and sure enough, several of John and Ellen’s children were listed.   In the baptismal record of their son John Richard Smith his parents are listed as John and Ellen Lyons Smith.  At long last I had found my proof!  Funny how it was right under my nose for years!

Genealogy Ramblings – Family Stories – Fact or Fiction?

I’m sure every genealogist has heard some rather unbelievable family stories over the years.  But before you are ready to throw them out, examine them once again to see if there could be some truth lurking behind the fantastic stories!  A prime example on my dad’s side of the family – my aunt always asserted that we were related to Billy the Kid.  Aunt Catherine could never give me more details than that one simple fact.  She did know the story came from her dad’s side of the family.  I smiled politely and listened – then dismissed the notion as nonsense.  Wasn’t I surprised years later to find the name of Pap’s great-grandmother – Arena Kidd!  She married Tillotson Ross.  They named their son William, probably called him Billy.

As stories are handed down from generation to generation they get turned around a bit, a little embellishment added here and there.  But if you look closely enough there’s generally a kernel of truth hidden somewhere in the middle!  And it sometimes turns out to be a gem!

Early Obituaries

Springfield City Cemetery

In my opinion, obituaries today are far to bland and boring.  Yes, they give names and dates, and even though those are very important, they give nothing to the reader of the deceased’s life or character.  Obituaries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are far more interesting.  They tend to make people come alive – you can picture these people in your mind – it makes you want to know and love them.

The following is from The Springfield Sun from the year 1916.  Benjamin Edwards was a son of Jonathon Joseph Edwards (who is buried in the Linton Cemetery) and grandson of Edward Barber Edwards – one of the early settlers who moved to Kentucky from Loudoun County, Virginia.  Edward married Nancy Linton, a daughter of Captain John.

The Springfield Sun,  February 1916

Death Claims Several of the Best Known Citizens of the County During the Past Week


News of the death of Ben Edwards, which was circulated this morning, came as a shock to many friends in Washington County who had know and liked him for many years.  Mr. Edwards had been in bad health for several years and for some time had been practically confined to his room at the home of Edgar Linton where he lived, but it was not generally known that he was in danger of immediate death.  Death came in the early hours of Wednesday morning.  The funeral service was conducted at the Methodist church, of which Mr. Edwards was a member, this afternoon and the remains interred on Cemetery Hill.  In the absence of Mr. Coward, the Pastor, Mr. Lawson conducted the service.

Mr. Edwards was one of the best known men of the county.  He was born here seventy years ago and had spent his entire life in this county where he engaged in farming.  He was straightforward and honest and had the respect of all who knew him.  Mr. Edwards married many years ago and was preceded to the grave several years ago by his wife, Mrs. Lucy Edwards.  The nearest of kin surviving are cousins.  His grandfather moved to this county from Virginia one hundred years ago this year, and settled in the house where Mr. Edwards died.  He is the last member of the Edwards family.

Linton Descendant Worried About Site

This is my favorite picture of my grandmother!  She was featured in her hometown newspaper because of her concern for the Linton Cemetery.  She took great pride in being a Linton descendant.  Her mother was Frances Barber Linton, daughter of Edward Edwards Linton and Catherine Elizabeth Taylor Linton – both descendants of the Captain!  There are a few errors in the article that I will address at another time.

The Springfield Sun – 1982

Mary Alice Montgomery CarricoBut there’s no need for concern
Linton descendant worried about site

by John Bramel, Editor

It is an 88-year-old mind bearing memories of things more than two centuries old.

A woman who is one of the oldest surviving relatives of a Revolutionary War captain worries about the plot of Washington County land that contains his remains.

“I pray that whoever owns the land now will take care of it,” says Mrs. Rue Carrico.  A Springfield woman whose ankles and body are bent with age, Mrs. Carrico’s spirit is alive and well in the tone of her voice and the gleam in her eyes.

And her spirit soars in the cause she bears now – protection of a gravesite.

She is the great, great granddaughter of Captain John Linton.

Mrs. Carrico’s information about her ancestor is based mostly on oral history passed along by family members.

Sallie Keene’s information is based on extensive research.  She and her husband, Milton, are both of Springfield and descendants of Captain John Linton.  Sallie Keene is a distant relative of Mrs. Carrico.

Here is the information about the captain provided by both women.

John Linton was born in 1750.  He earned the military title during the Revolutionary War.

“There’s no question about that,” says Sallie Keene.  “We have several relatives who are members of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) through him.”

Although both women believe, it cannot be substantiated that Captain John Linton did indeed participate in the funeral of the nation’s first president

“It’s always been handed down in our family that he was in the Masonic honor guard that was part of George Washington’s funeral,” says Sallie Keene.

At the time of George Washington’s funeral, in 1799, John Linton and his wife, Ann Mason, lived in Virginia.

However, there is a deed purchase dated 1816.  Apparently because of his participation in the war, John Linton was able to purchase 2,000 acres of land for about $2 an acre.

It was located a few miles northeast of Springfield.

“They came here in either 1816 or 1818,” Sallie Keene says.  “They might have purchased the land while they still lived in Virginia.  An oath that he gave at the clerk’s office (in Springfield) saying that he did bring slaves from Virginia is dated 1818.”

At that time oaths were required.  Slave owners had to declare they had not intent to sell.

If he did arrive in 1818, Captain John Linton was about 68 years old when he got here.  He raised tobacco and hemp with slave labor, like many other farmers here at that time.

Many of John and Ann Mason Linton’s children came to Kentucky with them.  One daughter, Susan Linton Edwards, broke her leg while traveling through the Cumberland Gap.

There were at least 11 children:  Elizabeth, John Hancock, Catherine, Lewis, William, Mary, Susan, Martha, Nancy, Benjamin, and Moses, who was a famous doctor who lived in Missouri.

Sallie Keene says John Linton was Presbyterian, as were most of his children, except Moses.  Moses became a Catholic, and he was one of the founders of the Holy Name Society.

Captain John Linton, the man who experienced the birth of a nation, lived to the ripe old age of 86.  He died in 1836, about thirty years before the war that would split the nation.

John Linton is buried on the Kentucky land he purchased.  The grave along with its stone is still there now, surrounded by a black, wrought-iron fence, a few miles northeast of Springfield, just west of KY 555.

The plot appears to be on a hill that is higher than most of the surrounding landscape.  Rolling green farmland is visible for miles.

Wind sweeps the hill and chisels the inscriptions on the stones in the plot.  But Captain John Linton’s stone stands there still, and a briar barrier provides further protection from intruders.

It is the plot that Mrs. Rue Carrico worries about so much.

She doesn’t need to worry.

The land is now owned by Reed Spaulding.  He remembers that his grandfather who also owned the land promised descendants of Captain John Linton that the small graveyard wouldn’t be destroyed.

And although he has never talked with Linton descendants about the subject, he too feels bound by the promise.

“I wouldn’t do anything to anybody’s cemetery.”

So, in a sense, Captain John Linton survives Today.

Inscription under picture of graveyard – “The inscription on Captain John Linton’s stone, at left, says:  “In memory of John Linton, who departed this life December 4, 1836, In the 86th year of his age.”  The stone at right bears the name of William Moran, who married a daughter of Captain John Linton.  J.S. Moran, editor emeritus of The Springfield Sun, is a great, great grandson of Linton.  At 94, Moran might be the oldest surviving relative of the captain’s.  Other 19th century stones in the plot belong to William Linton and his wife, Eliza, and to John Edwards and his wife, Millie.”

Inscription under picture of John Linton: ” This photograph of Captain John Linton was reproduced from a tintype owned by the late Louis Linton of Russellville.”

Inscription under picture of Alice Carrico: ” While growing up, Mrs. Rue Carrico, shown above, heard stories about her ancestor who brought the family lineage into Kentucky, Captain John Linton.  Mrs. Carrico’s mother’s maiden name was Frances Linton, and her grandfather’s name was Edward Linton, direct links to a past two centuries old.”