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Archive for the ‘Julia Caperton Family Story’ Category

I woke this morning listening to a slight drizzle of rain knocking on my window. There is a bit of a chill in the air, just enough to let the arthritis in my shoulder know that something – not sure it it is good or bad –  is about to change in the weather. What a perfect morning to crawl back between the sheets with a good book! After all – I AM the only one in my neighborhood who hasn’t read  Fifty Shades of Grey.  Tonight is “girl’s” night out with Krewe Hanover Farms  and I really want to have something to talk about that has nothing to do with weeds, husbands or home owner’s associations.

However; after thinking it over a bit I realized if I get engrossed in a book right now, it will be noon before I start my day.   Instead, I decided to spend my morning productively by tackling my overwhelming batch of papers that need filing.   About five minutes into filing I ran across a document that I intended to publish a while back .  After shoving all of the other papers back into an already overflowing, wardrobe sized crate  labeled “Things to File” – I sat down at my computer to bring you the words of my Great Aunt – Lillian Ruth Caperton Wimmer.   This essay, written by Ruth, tells of life around Speedway, West Virginia just before – during – and after WWII.

Growing up in the 30’s and 40’s in Speedway, West Virginia – By Lillian Ruth Caperton Wimmer

I was born September 7, 1931, during the “Great Depression.”  Times then were very (more…)

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Root Hog or Die – The Legacy of the Caperton Family

Now see – just when you ‘ll had given up on me I turn up again just like the weeds that are now popping out of my garden.

Even though I haven’t been posting – I have been quite busy.  Over the holidays Julia’s story was published in print form.  It’s now available as paperback print book.  Julia’s story is self published to keep the price low, which means I had to fore-go some important things like a real editor!   If you are interested in purchasing this book it is available at the link below.

Julia’s Story – Print Version – $7.99 – any profits from the book will be donated to help maintain the Caperton Cemetery in Speedway

For the post today, I thought I would add the first chapter of the book.  Please remember that some of the information in the chapter are my conclusions and may not be correct!

The Caperton Legend

Most remarkable family legends are filled with truths – partial truths – myths based on partial truths and topped off with a bald face lie or two just to add a little bit of excitement.  The remarkable legend of the Caperton family is no different.  While the European origins fall into the partial truth and possibly the bald face lie categories, the true legend of the (more…)

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Julia meets Boden Edward Caperton

Julia had been a widow for about two years when she met a young and handsome WWI veteran.  He was a distant cousin who lived in a log cabin built on the far edge of the farm lands.  He lived with his mother, Sarah, a younger sister and brother named Ida and Henderson.   Boden Caperton had dark curly hair, dark brown eyes and a dark swarthy complexion.  Although he wasn’t very tall, he was trim and very muscular.  He and Julia were the same age, Boden had never been married.  Boad, as they called him, had seen the dark side of the world.  During the war his tour of duty took him to France and Germany for a very long time.  During his enlistment he saw a lot of fighting and the months of trench warfare he endured left him with some horrific memories that haunted (more…)

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Pride West Virginia.   1922-1923

Julia had been a widow about two years now, life was going along fairly well.  By that time, the farm was divided out to different members of the family.  Julia’s part was Uncle Bob and Aunt Allie’s place.  She now had several acres of land and the house was the same house she moved her furniture to when she had first moved back to the country from Princeton.

The house sat on the hill overlooking the rest of the farm.   There were three large rooms in the house, one of them had a grand fireplace.  The yard was huge, with lots of flowers and shrubbery, many of them planted years earlier by Uncle Allan and Aunt Allie.  There were big tall lilac bushes growing around the house, the family always eagerly anticipated the lovely fragrance of the bushes each year.  A black heart cherry tree stood in the yard, close to the chimney and there was a pear tree just outside of the fence.  On another side of the house, just outside of the yard, two tall cherry trees stood along side of damson and apple trees.  Julia’s yard was so beautiful in the spring when the trees were in bloom.

Then there was the large orchard, with several different kinds of apples.  Winter apples and summer apples.  Behind the house there was a grape arbor, with three different kinds of grapes, blue grapes, white grapes and pink grapes.

All of this now belonged to Julia.  She moved her young family to the new place and enjoyed living there with the children.  While she was happy living with her mother Ella and brother Bob, she now felt more freedom and security, knowing this house belonged to her and also knowing that Ella and Bob were close by.   Julia and her mother were still together most of the time, and her family was always there to help her when she needed them.

Julia had a neighbor on a farm joining hers, they became great friends.  Her neighbor’s husband was a preacher.  Her friend had a very large family, although most of them had moved away from home to start families of their own.   There were still four children at home.  The oldest one at home was grown up, but still single.  The other three were pretty small yet.

The preacher owned a two or three seat buggy, pulled by a team of horses.  He called the buggy a “Sarah”.  Julia and her children were frequently invited to go along with them to a revival meeting, picnic or a baptizing.  Her friend and neighbor was a jolly woman and was a lot of fun to be around.

Julia got a lot of pleasure out of watching her children, and would get so amused at them.  One day she saw Gertrude take her grandmother, Ella, by the hand and tell her that she would protect her as they walked through the orchard.  The family owned a large, mean hog that lived in the orchard, they kept him for breeding.  At times, the sow would try to fight and charge at folks when they tried to walk through the orchard.  The children were all frightened of them, but Gertrude was full of spunk and would take anything on.  One day, Gertrude decided she was going to protect her grandmother Ella from the ole sow as they walked through the orchard.  As they about neared the halfway point, they heard a loud snort and saw the sow starting to charge at them.   Gertrude, who had been so gentle and kind with her grandmother as they started the trip, forgot about all of the kind promises of protection,  let go of her grandmother’s hand and took off.   The fence was still quite a distance away!  Gertrude was almost flying she was running so fast.  She didn’t look back until she was on top of the rail of the fence on the far side of the orchard.  Once she reached safety,  she remembered her grandmother and timidly looked back expecting to see her getting mauled by the ole sow.  Instead, what she saw was her grandmother Ella standing right where she left her, laughing so hard that she couldn’t move.

Julia’s little son Mark Jr. was a cute curly haired boy, with reddish hair and blue eyes.  The girls all had dark hair and brown eyes, Julia had hoped for a girl with blue eyes, but she was so proud of her blue-eyed boy.  Mark was little, but he loved to play around outdoors.  Someone had given Mark a banty rooster, and he loved it very much.  One day Julia looked out to see what Mark was up to, she could hear him crying and needed to find out what was going on.  Another banty rooster that lived on the farm had jumped on Mark’s rooster and was fighting with it.  Little Mark had a stick in his hand and was chasing the other rooster, trying to kill it.  He was shouting be dod, I will kill you for jumping on my rooster “Be dod”.

Julia’s oldest daughter Helen was blessed with so much talent and beauty.  Her hair was very black, her eyes a light brown and her complexion was very fair.   She was a gifted artist and drew beautiful landscapes.  Julia was very proud of her.

Julia’s little girl Bessie was always very tiny.  She didn’t grow fast.  Bessie was very industrious and liked to help her mother around the house.  Because she had always been so little, Julia was inclined to over protect her and spent a lot of time worrying about her.

Gertrude was the bull-headed one.  If there was any trouble, she was usually the one in the middle of it.   Gertrude would give the appearance of listening to what was being said or asked of her, but usually went ahead and did what she had planned to do in the first place.

Each of the children were so very different in personality and temperament.  Julia loved each one of them very much in return, the loved and respected her with all of their heart.  Each one of the children would do anything in the world for her, no matter how hard the task, they were always willing to help.

Julia worked awfully hard in her garden raising just about everything they ate.  One day she was getting ready to work out in the garden.  She didn’t want to sour any of her shoes, so she put on a pair of Bob’s old slippers.  The slippers were so big she had to tie them on. One of them was tied with a neck tie, the other was tied with a red rag torn from a piece of cloth.  Wearing ragged clothing, with her hair also tied up she made quite a sight.

As Julia was about to go into the garden, she heard someone knock on the front door, she went to the door and saw that a salesman was standing there.   He was a young, handsome man who was nicely dressed.  Julia was kind of taken back to see such a nice looking man standing there,  and she invited him in.

He was selling books.  As he sat in her beautiful and comfortable parlor showing her the books, Julia happened to remember what she was wearing, especially on her feet.   All of the sudden it dawned on her how ridiculous she looked.  As she sat there staring down at Bob’s old slippers, she was becoming embarrassed and started laughing.  She was about to get hysterical and couldn’t concentrate on what the nice looking young man was telling her.

The salesman quickly realized he was in the wrong house, his books were very expensive and knew he wasn’t going to make a sale to a woman dressed in rags with slippers tied to her feet.   He became almost as embarrassed as Julia and gathered his merchandise up in haste, leaving the house in a big hurry.  When Julia went back to the parlor after the young man’s quick retreat, she discovered that he accidentally left a very expensive medical book behind.  It had been priced at $15.00.  She had no idea how to reach him to return the book and by that time he was long gone from Bent Mountain.   Julia could never have purchased such an expensive reference book, but over the years, the medical advice that came from that forgotten book was used very often.

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We haven’t checked in with Julia since the beginning of August.  When last we checked,  we learned that Uncle Bob received a lot of joy out of life by playing pranks and scaring the wits out of his family.  All in good fun.  We’ll I suppose it was fun for some, not all.   Otherwise, Julia and her children were adjusting their new lives without Mark.  It was a life of hard work, self-reliance and little money.   The manner in which the story was written gives one the feeling that all of the hardships combined were overshadowed by an abundance of love from the family and community.

Julia’s Story – Chapter 12 – Pulling it together

1921-1922 in Pride, West Virginia – now known as Speedway – on the west side of Bent Mountain.

Julia, now living in her mother’s house, fixed it up.  She had nice furniture, of course she sold some of it, but most of it she had kept.   The living room, or parlor – as it was called in those days  – was across the hall.  It was a large room.  The sofa and chair were black leather and a large soft rug was on the floor.  The rug had a tan background with a rose pattern, the children thought it was beautiful.   A lovely organ sat in the corner – and organ that provided many evenings of joy for the family.  A large living room table sat against the wall.  There were family pictures on the wall.    A large potted fern sat on the floor. the fern came from the near-by woods and each weekend Julia sent someone to dig the fern from the woods.  When it arrived, she would plant it in a pot of rich soil.  The ferns would only stay fresh for about a week. 

There were sheer white curtains that looked almost ghostly when the breeze came through the window.  They dressed up the dark green molding of the window and made a beautiful contrast.  The Parlor was cool and lovely, and always so clean.

The rest of the house was also cool and clean-looking.   The floors were bare, but were scrubbed each week.  There were dark green blinds and white curtains at every window.   The children’s beds were dressed in white spreads and the room where the children slept also had a large potted fern sitting on the floor that was changed weekly.

In the kitchen was a long harvest table against the wall with a long bench for the children to sit on at meal time.  The kitchen was always a place of great activity!  Julia spent a lot of her time cooking and canning in this kitchen.  This is where she learned her art – which was cooking.  Julia was known throughout the area as one of the best cooks around.

Nearly every weekend there was company, friends and relatives from all of the surrounding counties would just show up.  Julia enjoyed the company and felt proud and blessed to have so many people who cared about her, but it was always very hard to gather enough food for them.  Somehow she always managed to prepare a good meal which her company enjoyed immensely.  When they left, they always bragged about the good dinner given to them at Julia’s house.

Sometimes the hard work and the burdens of trying to raise the children alone would almost get her down, but not for long,  Julia wasn’t one to give into self-pity.  When these feelings came upon her she would take the bible out, sit down and read it quietly to herself.  For a long time after she read, she would sit quietly meditating, as if she was talking to the Lord and asking for his guidance.

This always strengthened her, she could get up with renewed strength and courage, and again start her day’s work.  After these sessions, she no longer felt alone and would always be all right.  Julia would life her eyes unto the hills, and feel the Lord’s help, she felt him standing by her side.

Sometimes when she worked hard and was very tired, it rested her to sit at the organ to play and sing.  The room was always so cool and clean and it was restful just to sit in the room, playing and signing the hymns to herself.  Although she wasn’t a talented musician, or a talented singer, to her children it sounded beautiful.   They would all get very quiet and listen, the children thought it sounded awfully good and they loved for her do to this.  Julia got a lot of enjoyment out of the organ and it took away the tensions of the day.

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When we last visited Julia she was recently widowed.  Julia and her children moved back to Speedway and to the farm and home place to live with her mother – Ella – and brother – Bob.   Julia was starting over. Even though the family was quite poor and missed the comforts and convenience of living in town, life was becoming stable and joyous for the children.  It seems, the young adults were enjoying themselves a bit as well!

Uncle Bob – The King of Pranksters

Life couldn’t all be dull and hard work, Julia was young and full of life, she loved being around people.  She went to church, joined a lodge, joined in the activities of the community.   She began to live and enjoy her new life, she made life gay and happy for her family.

The children loved their grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins, it being the home place, they came often.  Some of the Aunt’s and Uncle’s lived in another state, it was a gay and happy gathering when they would get together, such laughing and talking and joking.  It was nice to live way out in the country, they could make all the noise they wanted to, the sound would go no farther than the hills.

If there was work to be done like making molasses, apple butter, or just about anything that had to be done, families gathered to help each other, sometimes sitting up nearly all night to make molasses or helping to peel apples for apple butter.

Working together was fun, no one minded helping the other, it was a chance to gather for fun and laughter.  Sometimes, just for the heck of it, and to have a big laugh at someone elses expense, someone in the family, usually Julia or Bob her brother, would think of some way to scare the devil right out of you.  Bob was real bad to play a prank on Julia.  One time he almost scared her to death when she went to feed the hogs.  Julia had been busy and was late feeding the hogs, she had to go quite a distance from the house to feed them and she was afraid any way.

Bob slipped up in the woods and waited for her to come feed the hogs.  Then he put a black coat over his head and shoulders and came crawling out of the woods growling.  Julia thought it was a bear!  It scared her so bad she wasn’t able to run, she almost passed out.   Bob never did know how bad he scared her, and she never let him know that she just wasn’t able to run.

Another time Bob scared Hallie.  He was supposed to be gone for the night, but for some reason he came back home.  It was getting late, but everyone was still up sitting by the fire.  Bob slipped in the back door and into the bedroom where Hallie and the children slept.  There were two beds in the room.

Bob hid under one of the beds and waited for everyone to get into bed, then he was going to scare them.  Hallie happened to see his feet, she saw a pair of men’s shoes at the foot of the bed, then saw a man under the bed.   Hallie started screaming, it scared the other children so they also started screaming.  It finally ended up in scaring everyone in the house, for they couldn’t get the children to stop screaming.  Bob finally crawled out from under the bed to help calm the children, which was quite a job. 

Another time Bob and his friend, Hence, was going to a revival meeting.  They had several miles to walk and it would be about twelve o clock in the night before they were supposed to be back home.   Bob and Hence decided not to go.  Around nine-thirty, Julia had already gone to bed.  Her mother and the children were still up.  Bob’s bed was in the hall, they had curtained off one end of the hall for his bed.   Bob didn’t have any intentions of scaring anyone, he just slipped in quietly and went right to bed.

His mother heard someone in the hall, when Bob heard her coming to the door, he got right in the doorway and stood silently.  His mother opened the door, there in the dark she saw a man standing then slammed the door and braced her body against it.  Ella began to scream for Julia to help her, the children ran to the door to help hold it shut.  Julia was to be no help for Ella and the children, the screaming scared her so bad she just pulled the covers over her face and waited.   Bob finally got the door pushed open and they saw who it was.

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I would like to give a huge welcome to all of the new subscribers who joined this week!  We’re glad to have you.  Before I get to the story, and since there are so many new readers I’ll spend a minute and explain what this posting is about.  Julia Caperton was my great-grandmother.  Her daughters, Ruth and Gertrude put their memories down in the form of a handwritten story sometime around 1969 – just a few years after Julia passed away.  I have the original copies – in pencil – and I’m placing a little bit of the story online each week.   The words are not edited – they are copied just as they were written.  If you wish to catch up, all of the chapters can be found by clicking this link: Julia Caperton Family Story.

Chapter 10 – Starting Over

1920 – 1923

The only income Julia had was twenty dollars a month – paid to her by a lodge that Mark had belonged to.   Her friends all wanted her to send the children to an orphanage, but she loved them dearly and wouldn’t give them up.   Julia knew she couldn’t sit down and give into her sorrow, and the burden was now hers, so she straightened her brave young shoulders and looked to the future.  Had it been possible for her to see into the future, she would not have had the courage to go on.

Julia moved in with her mother and brother Bob, they were glad to have her and the children live with them, it had been lonely for Bob and his mother since they had moved back to the farm.  Julia bought another cow, her mother already had one cow.  Now they would have plenty of milk and butter to use for the family, and a little left over to sell at the country store nearby.

Julia planned each move carefully.  She bought Bob another horse, so he could have a team to do the farm plowing and hauling.   She raised turkeys to  have for sale in the fall.  She raised more chickens so they would have more eggs to sell.   Julia was proud of the big hogs they raised, they had plenty of meat to eat.  She sold all of the hams, but kept the rest of the meat for the family.

Happiness, poverty, tragedy and sorrows were to be Julia’s life, but greatness and a great life will emerge out of this.  If only there are words to express her life.  Through all of her troubles, she stood like a brave soldier.  All who met her, or even knew her felt there was something special about her.   It was like being close to an angel, a great gift God had given her.   Julia had faith in God,and in all the tragedies which she suffered, she was able to come out of all of it, stronger than ever.

Julia and her children were like a team, all pulling together.  They helped with each chore to be done, they helped in the garden, in the cane field, some times they would work all day in the corn field.  They went out in the fields to pick berries to can for jelly and jam and on special days they picked the berries to make a cobbler.   The children climbed the large cherry trees to  pick cherries for canning.  All summer long she canned fruits and vegetables.  In the fall they dug potatoes and buried them in a mound of straw and earth to keep for the winter.   They gathered apples then buried them or placed them around the flu in the attic.

Around Christmas time she would take the apples out of the mound of straw.  They were so delicious – somehow burying them made them taste so good.  The apples that were placed around the flu were good too.   It was great to sit around the cook stove in the middle of winter eating the tasty apples.  The family and many times other relatives were visiting.  Someone would start telling a big tale, then someone else would start telling a bigger one.   Suddenly, someone would break out with a ghost story, then the fun began.  That’s when your spine would tingle – the hair on the back of your neck would stand up.  The children would get up and move if there backs were against a window or door – they would move to a safer spot against a wall, never to move again.  The eyes of the children were so big and wide, looking up as if they expected to see a ghost any minute.  As scared as they were, they enjoyed and hung on to every word – thrilled and excited – half way believing it all.

The children liked to help milk the cows, feed the hogs and gather the eggs.  Most of the time the eggs had to be sold for groceries.  They didn’t get to each much of the ham either, the hams also had to be sold.   Sometimes they got to eat a chicken, especially if the preacher was going to be there.  Usually the chicken was about gone by the time the children got to the table, as they had to wait and let the company eat first.  Company always came first – that was like the law in those days.  They knew well to stand back and wait, if they did get impatient and said or did something they shouldn’t, they would be scolded or sometimes spanked.

To the children, Julia’s word was the law and they didn’t question it.  She ruled with a kind hand but a stern one.   They knew she loved them, and they loved their mother.  I don’t think any children could ever love their mother as much as Julia’s children loved her.

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During the time this part of the story was written – it’s likely that the two children who had to do all of the work were Helen and Gertrude!  In 1920, Helen would have been 10 years old and Gertrude 8.  The two younger children, Bessie (Tootsie) and Mark would have been 4 and 1.  It’s unlikely they were a lot of help.

Julia’s brother, Bob – was a young man of 18.  Her mother Ella was in her early 50’s, and most likely took charge of the two younger children while the others worked the farm.

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