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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring Genealogy Trip 2014

Last year my mom and I decided to make our first attempt at a genealogy trip.  We planned a trip to Illinois where we could visit Monmouth where relatives on her side lived and then we headed south to Lincoln, Ill to where relatives on dad's side resided.  We had so much fun we decided we needed a repeat this year.
This year we picked Missouri because again we could visit sites from both sides of my family.  We are not professional genealogists by any means but we have a great time and sometimes just luck into some fantastic finds.  This trip was no different.
We started out on a Sunday leaving Omaha around 6:30 with our plan to drive south and get to Wilson's Creek National Park shortly after lunch.  On the way we found this great BBQ place and had a fantastic lunch...after all half the fun of traveling is finding those new and great places to eat!

Mom at Boone's BBQ Barn in Bolivar, MO

We started with exploring dad's side this year.  Dad's great, great grandfather was Alexander Fuller.  He came from Candor, New York and settled near Rolla, Missouri.  He met his future wife, Sarah Jane Padgett, who was living with her mother and step father, Phillip and Mary Deem.  Also living with them were her half brothers, Jim and Christopher Deem. The Deems had moved to Missouri from Illinois.  Alexander and Sarah Jane married on March 1, 1857 or 1858.  (It is stated both ways in a later pension application statement made by Sarah Jane.)  The marriage record has been destroyed by fire so we only have the pension application to go by.  They had two children, John and Martha. Alexander Fuller joined the First Arkansas Mounted Riflemen under Colonel Thomas J. Churchill.  He was wounded at the Battle of Wilson's Creek.  So we wanted to start by touring Wilson's Creek Battlefield. We were there on a beautiful day and could really take our time and walk the trails and see the park.  I cannot describe the feeling you get knowing what took place on those grounds that day.

When we finished up at Wilson's Creek we drove into Springfield to spend the night.  We had dinner in a downtown pub that was good and got a great Priceline deal at the Springfield Hotel.

On Monday we drove into Rolla, MO.

We got to Rolla about lunch time and it was recommended that we eat at a place called "Slice of Pie".  This was perfect as they served a light lunch and had a list of almost 40 pies to chose from!  Yum.  It was so good that we ate lunch there again the next day!

Every good genealogy trip takes planning.  While I was organizing my notes and deciding what we should do in Rolla I knew that there was an out of the way cemetery that I wanted to visit.  Phillip Mary and Jim Deem are buried in a country cemetery.  Luckily it is listed on but I wasn't sure of the location.  I took a chance and contacted the gentleman (Garrett) that had posted the memorial and pictures on  It turned out that not only was he very familiar with the cemetery and the story of the Deem family but some of his family now own the land where my Deem family was living in the 1850-1860s. As we corresponded I found out that he also knew where Sarah Jane Fuller had lived and he had some information about why she had moved back to Illinois with the kids.  He offered to show us where the cemetery is located, the Deem farm and where the Fullers were living. We were really excited to have someone offer to give us a guided tour of the area!
We met Garrett and his friend who is also interested in local history and teaches History at one of the area schools to exchange notes and then go on the tour.  The first stop was the land where the Fullers lived.  After Alexander went to war, soldiers had burned the house down and Sarah Jane Fuller and the kids moved in with the neighbors... Widow Keester. The widow Keester later married Judge Wright.  Alexander Fuller died of disease later in the Civil War and Sarah Jane was being referred to as Widow Fuller.  Now a side the Rolla area there was a lot of conflict between the two sides of the Civil War.  Both sides were accused of bushwhacking and were labeled bushwhackers.  Judge Wright had a son, Anthony,  that was a notorious bushwhacker and soldiers were after him.  One day the soldiers came and arrested  Judge Wright and his other son in connection to Anthony.  They were to take them back to jail in Rolla but along the way
they was killed by the soldiers.  There was a trial of the soldiers and during this trial the Widow Fuller is mentioned because of the time that she spent living with Judge Wright and his wife the Widow Keester.  During the trial another neighbor makes some statements about the Widow Fuller and also states that her brother came to Missouri and took her and the children back to Illinois with him.  Later the widow Fuller remarried to William Calhoun in Illinois.

  This picture isn't the best as the sun was in the wrong position.
Next we went over to the Deem farm.  There is a cabin still sitting on it that may be left from the Deems but it also could have been built shortly after that time.  In the The Bushwhacker book by George Clinton Arthur it says that soldiers burned the Deem house down.  Later in the book it says that since the house had been burned Mrs Deem was now living in a two-room log house near Corn Creek.
Log house still on the property where the Deems lived. Unsure if this is the actual
log cabin talked about.

Mary Deem's son, Jim, was killed by soldiers due to his association with Bushwhacker Bill.  Her husband, Phillip was innocent but killed too mainly because of his son, Jim.   Her other son, Christopher had joined the service and also fought at Wilson's Creek.

Huskey Cemetery where the Deem family is buried.  Notice the spelling on the stones is different.

Here is a picture of mom with our tour guides.  Another picture of mom and I at the cemetery.

We spent the night in Rolla and the next day we went to the Courthouse and the Historical Society.  We found a little bit of information about the Phillip Deem estate but I still have some more work to do on that.
We of course browsed some antique stores too!  Then we headed out towards our next destination, Memphis, MO.
We drove as far as Jefferson City, MO and found a hotel.  Went to a shopping area for dinner and a few munzees (another form of geocaching) for mom.

Wednesday we started the trip to Memphis, Mo driving north and stopping when we would see an interesting antique.  We got to Macon Mo and went into a downtown antique shop.  The owner had a huge wall full of genealogy books.  They were not for sale but were there for anyone who wanted to use them.  They had belonged to her father-in-law and when he passed away they put them in their shop to share with others.  His collection was as big as some library collections that I have seen.  What a treasure!
Of course we had to find a good lunch place and the locals suggested Hawg Father's BBQ.  The special was a chicken tenderloin seasoned and wrapped in bacon.  It also had a sweet taste of brown sugar incopoated into it.  Very good.  I believe we found a homemade cobbler here too....are you starting to see a theme of pies on this trip?

On to Memphis!

We drove on up to Memphis, Mo and pulled into town in time to spend about an hour at the courthouse.  We found some land records and a couple of marriage records that we did not have.
We found a motel for the night and then went out to visit a friend at the cemetery.  Rita was a good friend to my mom and later my family in Omaha.  She was originally from Memphis so we wanted to  take these flowers out to her. RIP Rita.

We found a little bar/pub that we were told would have food and a drink so we went there for dinner.
And no trip is complete with out grabbing a geocache or two along the way.  Mom found this one outside of town at a small recreational lake area.

The next morning we went to the Memphis Genealogical Society and did some more research.  We also stopped at the library as it had a genealogy area too.  We were hoping to find some information about our Civil War ancestors, William P Smith and John Little.  We did not come up with anything more than we already knew but we were referred to the state archives for more information.

We were told that another good stop while we were in the area was the "Athens Civil War Battlefield".  So we headed that way.  This is the site of the Northernmost Battle west of the Mississippi River.
It was a beautiful area but again you could feel the emotions of the battle when you were there.  We saw a house that was owned by the Benning family on the grounds. During the battle a cannonball went clear through it.  The hole in the front and back are still there.  No one was injured but wouldn't
that have been a surprise to see a cannonball zip through your home?

Exit hole in the back of the house.

From there we headed on up to Ottumwa, Ia.  Somewhere on the way Mom found a great Western Stoneware paperweight made in Monmouth, IL at an antique shop here.  We both like to collect small Western Stoneware items because of the family connection to that area.  In Ottumwa we took a break from the old and went shopping at a mall that we found there and then went to dinner. This time we tried BBQ nachos at a local pub in the mall.  They were good but still couldn't beat the BBQ nachos served at the Nebraska State Fair by Pig in a Bag!  We also found a few munzees (another form of geocaching) for mom.

The next morning was Friday and we were due home that night.  We got up and headed to Pella, IA.  Mom had been there before but I had not.  We found a great coffee shop on our way thru Oskaloosa, IA and I was really excited about that!  I hadn't had a Cafe Mocha since before we left and the one from Smokey Row was fact it was such good coffee that when we got to Pella and found another Smokey Row we indulged in a second cup.  I learned that no trip to Pella is complete without a trip to the Jaarsma Danish Bakery and  a tour of the Dutch windmill.  The Windmill was imported from Holland in pieces and reassembled in Pella.

My tour guide.

Shortly after noon we decided it was time to head back to Omaha.  We had covered quite a bit of area and had a great time.  For me touring the areas where my ancestors lived makes them more real and it really is a treat to get to spend the time with my mom.  Can't wait until the next trip... a bit of dieting is in order after this trip! We are not sure where the next trip will take us but had family from both sides in Indiana so....

Note - Our contact in Rolla was Garrett Gabel.  He co-wrote the book "History of Yancy Mills, Mo" and he is working on his new book. Our trip to Rolla was made so much better because of Garrett and Mikes' willingness to share their knowledge and time to help us understand what life was like for my family in Rolla, MO.  Thank you again Garrett and Mike!