Los Angeles, (43) November 21st, 1943.
Mr. Wm. Allen Stith, Guston, Kentucky .
My dear Cousin Allen:
Never say there is nothing in mental telepathy--I had been thinking for more than a month, of writing to you. I am so grateful, (before I go into my own story, let me tell you) to you for giving me the news about poor Pearce, I hadn't heard a breath of it. Since I got your letter, I've had one from Nell Moorman, in Washington, and she confirmed the sad fact, and gave a little more details than you did. I called Beverly when I received your letter, at the State Building where she works, and told her, for I thought that she should know that Miss Blanche was about to be left alone. She hadn't much to say, except that it had been so long since she had heard from any one back there that she had no idea how they were getting along. She said that she'd let me know if she heard anything further, so, Friday she called and said that some one -- believe that it was Mary Blandford had written her and said that Miss Blanche had died on Sunday, November 14th. It was very difficult not to say "What a Mercy!" Now poor Pearce can have a little time to devote to his own case, which I am told was in the last stages before he went to Louisville, too late to have anything done for him, Nell told me, and can die in peace. The whole thing has been too tragical for words. I almost never see Beverly. She has only been to see me twice since Mother died, in 1941, and both times she brought Ruth, her friend, along. I have nothing against Ruth, but she does not know any one that Beverly and I do, and I hate to sit up and ignore her, and talk all the time about people and events that she is unfamiliar with--so, I do wish that Beverly would not drag her along every time she does. But, as Beverly said to me once: "I love Ruth and would like to have her with me every minute--" so I suppose there is little hope of ever seeing Beverly alone. Especially as Ruth's husband died this summer or Fall I don' t remember which and Ruth has sold her house and moved in with Beverly in a triplex which Bev. had bought not long ago. Ruth and her husband moved to Sherman Oaks, a suburb, of Los Angeles , when the University of Southern California had all the adjacent area condemned by the city, and put at their disposal for the enlargement and improvement of the school. That included their property, so they had to sell out. A city appraiser came out and put a valuation upon all property and the University paid the owners accordingly. Few of' them were satisfied, of course, but it was an old district, and not restricted fully to the white race, and the negroes were getting in wherever they could, so I think they did very well to get all cash for their holdings, and could go into other districts, and get new places. Ruth and her husband went clear out, as I have said, I think that it about twenty-five miles, but, altho' it is very inconvenient for Beverly to drive all that distance every day, and she looks worn-out and tired to death whenever I have seen her, she followed, and bought a vacant lot next-door to Ruth, and built a new house on it. She lived there for a time, and sold it to the Great Gildersleeve, of screen and radio fame, at a very nice profit, I imagine, and bought a triplex further up on the same block. Then, after her husband's death, Ruth bought in with her, and they're together again. Altho' they've never been very far apart. The husband was just a derelict, who drifted in broke and homeless, and married Ruth, and later brought out his parents also broke and homeless, and Ruth had to provide a home for them also. She had a house down at the Beach, however, into which they moved. The father is dead now, and I don't know if the mother still lives there, or not. The husband had been a drinking man, and altho' he stopped for a time, in view of his windfall, he eventually went back to it, and was rather a problem. Ruth wouldn't break away from him, however, and Beverly wouldn't break away from Ruth, so it seemed to be an endless circle, until Death intervened, and cut the tangled threads. I suppose that they still have their property in joint ownership, they used to, so that whichever one dies first gets the other's share -- but I do think that Beverly should have it arranged so that if Ruth outlives her, which she will, without an accident from the looks of the two of them, her share should go back to her family, at Ruth's death, for Ruth has no brothers nor sisters, and I wouldn't put it past her, in view of what she picked up the first time, to marry again. If I could ever see Beverly again, alone, I'd tell her so, not that it is any of my business, not that she'd pay any attention to what I said--because I've talked and talked to her all these years that I've been out here, and she has turned a deaf ear to every word. Mother used to ask me: "Why in the world do you waste your breath?" And I've often wondered myself, but it seemed that I couldn't resist having my say.
I read in the paper about your trip to Kansas City to visit Cousin Willa, and on to see your son. How interesting to find some one in touch with Stith Genealogy. They seem to be everywhere, almost, but not many of them know anything about what they sprung from. I had a letter from Mrs. Estey Stith Crabbe--I don't spell her name as she does, but she told me once that her father, who was very musical, named her for the Estey Music company, so I call her that, for "Estie" isn't any name. People are always asking me if she is named "esther", or what--and a surname seems to me to be better than a diminutive like "Estie". Well, any way, she had had a letter from a Mrs. Cora Stith Kibbe, in Mantuol, Kansas, (I never heard of her, nor of the "Mose" Stith that she is inquiring for, either) enclosing a letter from Peyton Stith Robertson, of Louisville. Mrs. Crabbe sent Peyton's letter to me, as Peyton didn't know who her great-grandfather was, and Mrs. Crabbe thought that she might be related to me, on the Peyton side, from her name. I was able to tell her at once how Peyton came in on the family tree, and I had told Mrs. Crabbe about that branch of the family before, but Mrs. Crabbe doesn't know any of the Kentucky Stiths personally, and it is hard for her to get them all straight, and connected in their proper places. She tells me in her letter that she has asked you to give her a chart of your lineage, and I've told her many times who you were, and who Miss Lena is, also. She thinks that it would be interesting to get Miss Lena's line on the Drury side. Cousin Bettie Drury told me once that Drury Lane, in London, was named for the family, and that she had been tracing it. I wondered if, by any any chance, she ever showed her findings to Miss Lena, or if the latter knows what became of her papers at her death. I've never asked Willa-I didn't think it would be any use. Perhaps I've misjudged Willa. The reason I'm interested, I've never been able to find out who Major John Stith, the first of his name in America, was married to. She is listed as "Jane, widow of Joseph Parsons", but I want her maiden name. The one person that I've ever known who claimed to have found it, is Margaret McQuown Clayman, grand-daughter of Rachel Stith McQuown, mother's aunt--Grandma Hardaway's sister, who lived in Illinois in her later years, and in Brandenburg when she first married. Her husband, Edward Young McQuown, was a brother of James R. McQuown, mother's father, and Grandma Hardaway's first husband. Owing to the unfortunate habit of using initials instead of entire names, mother never knew what the H. in her father's name stood for. Not Henry, for he had a brother Henry. He died before mother was born, and his name was James H. in the Bible, and that was all she knew. Margaret Clayman married, and became Mrs. Leslie Burnham, and she and her husband traveled out here, up and down the coast, and once a year, made a trip as far East as Maine, and she used to look in Libraries in Boston, Richmond, and all sorts of places. She says that once, in Richmond, she found where Major John Stith was a lawyer, and was guardian of Mrs. Jane Parsons' son, after his father's death, and later married Mrs. Parsons, and that this account gives Jane's maiden name. A very familiar name, Margaret said, one she had often heard, but she couldn't remember what it was. I implored her to cudgel her brain, and see if she couldn't, and she said, "Never mind, I have it written down somewhere, among my papers. The first time that I get into the things I have packed away, I'll find it." I was always asking her about it, and she's put me off--they lived up at Santa Rosa until Cousin Anna died, Margaret's mother, then they lived down here, had a house in Westwood, and a country place at Lake Elsinore, and the things that she wanted were always at the other place from where she was. Then her husband became ill with heart disease, and was in a sanitarium at some place down there near Elsinore, then he improved, and they went to La Jolla for his convalescence, and there Margaret became ill with a brain tumor, and died in a few weeks. He lived on several months after her death, returning to the sanitarium, then he died, and their property was sold, and in the confusion the papers were never located. Her twin sister, Mary Clayman, now Mrs. Witt B. Blaylock, said that she didn't see anything of it--or them--in going over her things. Mary was never as smart as Margaret, I don't know if she would have realized what it all meant if she had found it. So, in view of the fact that Margaret said it was a familiar name, and since the name Drury runs through the family so persistently, and since there were Drurys who came to Kentucky (presumably) with the Stiths, married into the family, I have wondered if Jane's name was not Drury. I would like so much to know. If I ever should get to Richmond myself, (and I would have done so, after Mother's death, if the War hadn't started) and it is really there, I'll find it. But, in the meantime, I'd like to happen upon it some other way, if that be possible. Did the Mrs. McArthur that you met in Oklahoma City have any information upon the subject?
Another thing that I wanted to ask you was about the mother of Edgar, Clay, Hamilton, and Aaron Moorman, (have I skipped a brother?) Since Hamilton was your brother-in-law, I thought you might know. Grandmother Hardaway's mother was Cinderella Moorman, daut. of Achilles Moorman and Betsey Stith. They had a number of children, among them a daughter, Lucy, who married Dr. David Lewis. A brother of Achilles, Jesse P. Moorman, married Patsey Stith, a sister of Betsey. (These two girls daughters of Thomas Stith and Rhoda Jones.) Later Patsey died, and Achilles died, and Jesse P. and Betsey married each other. They had two daughters, Judith, who married 1st.--Bush, secondly Hanson Stith, Louisa, who m. first --McKay, secondly, Dr. Stone. Mother called them: "Aunt Jude and Aunt Lou." I know who Aunt Judith's Stith children were, but I do not know if she had any children by --Bush, and I do not know who any of Aunt Louisa's children were, unless Mrs. Moorman --Hamilton's mother--was one of them, by her McKay husband. Mrs. Crabbe had a letter from one of Hamilton's spinster sisters, "Venerable" I believe that she called herself, saying that her mother was a daughter of Lucy Moorman, Betsey Stith had a daughter Lucy by her husband Achilles Moorman, she wouldn't have named a second daughter by Jesse Moorman "Lucy" especially as Jesse had a daughter Lucy by his first marriage, also. I am inclined to think that "Venerable" is mistaken and it should be "Louisa" unless, of course, she might have been a daughter of one of Aunt Louisa's sons--or unless there was another Lucy Moorman who married "McKay." When I used to know the Moorman twins, very slightly, I will admit, they were called "Vennie and Vertie". I felt sure that Vennie was named Venable a family who had intermarried with the Moormans--a very proud family, from the book "Venables of Virginia" which is in the Library here, and a name which runs through the family, as a first name and a middle name. So, I wish that Venerable would call herself Venable, as the former sounds rather like a joke, now that she is getting on in years, and will, in the not too far distant future, really become venerable, if she lives long enough.
Speaking of names, I took a gleeful pleasure in deflating Nell Moorman, who can't get family straight, altho she is supposed to be very brainy, and has been told over and over again (by me, at least, and perhaps by others). The niece who has lived with Nell while going through High School and George Washington University, Louise and Walter Moorman's elder daughter, Marjorie, married a man named Wm. Allen Jones. He is now a Lieut. in the Naval Engineering Corps, and is down at Laguna Beach, waiting sailing orders. Marjorie left her baby with her mother, and came out to stay with him until he left. She came and spent the night with me last week, the first time that I had seen her since she was six. She said that her aunt Nell hadn't wanted her to marry Lieut. Jones because of his name. "Such a common name," Nell said, "so many of them, everywhere." I said to Marjorie: "Nonsense. Tell Nell that I said she was putting on airs. Her grandmothers on two sides were descended from the Jones family of Va." Marjorie had never known that, and was quite intrigued when I further told her these Jones girls who married into the Stith family were daughters of Major Thomas Jones of the Revolution, and he a descendant of Peter Jones, who founded Petersburg, Va., and Richmond. "Could I become a D.A.R. on the Jones side?" she asked. "Really? Wait until I tell Sonny that." "Sonny" is her husband's nickname, quite absurd, for he looks, from his pictures, to be as big as the side of the house. I told her how her grandmother--several times great, of course, on Aunt Delia's side was Harriet Stith Hardaway, daughter of Thomas Stith and Rhoda Jones, and on Uncle Dave's side Betsey Stith Moorman, also daughter of Thos. Stith and Rhoda Jones, sister of Harriet. And, for fear she mightn't remember it, I made her a chart. One thing I failed to tell her, however, and that was that Rhoda Jones father is not definitely known. None of the books seem to say. But Elizabeth Jones, wife of Richard Stith Jr. our mutual ancestress--yours and mine--and Nancy Jones, also your ancestress, on Henry Stith's side,(your grandparents, Aunt Mary Ann and Uncle Henry were double-first cousins, you know, and Uncle Henry was also a double-first cousin of Buckner Jones Stith, Grandma Hardaway's father, since Aunt Mary Ann was Buckner's sister,) we know definitely are daughters of Major Thomas Jones, for Perrin's history of Kentucky says so about Elizabeth, and some place else I've seen it about Nancy. Margaret Clayman says that she has often heard Aunt Rachel say that "Three Jones sisters married three Stith brothers", so I always say that Rhoda Jones was also a daut. of Major Jones, altho' it is only family tradition, for Aunt Rachel was older, and remembered all these people, who were living in her girlhood. Rhoda Jones was Miss Lena's ancestress, of course, through her daughter Nancy Willa. I don't know why I always called Miss Lena "Miss", when I said Cousin Willa and Cousin Carrie Frakes, unless it was that I coupled her with Miss Blanche Jolly, as they were usually together when they were young ladies, and leaders of the society of their day. So, I just said: "Miss Blanche Jolly, and Miss Lena Drury." Peyton Stith Robertson spoke of you in her letter. She said you were about seventy-five years old, and she would ask you, the first opportunity that she had, who she was as you know a great deal about the Stith family. It gave me quite a shock to think of you as that age, when I remembered you as a gay young fellow that all the young ladies were "setting their caps for" to use one of Mother's expressions which sounds as if it may have gone back far beyond her day. The first summer that I remember you was when I was eighteen and Cousin Lucy and Aunt Annis Beasley were visiting there--you were rushing Cousin Lucy that summer, and everything was lovely, and the goose hung high. This was at Grandmother Hardaway's, I failed to say, and up at Uncle Charlie's later on. The next summer Cousin Lucy was back, but when I made my annual visit, it became quickly apparent that there was the first little rift within the lute, that by and by would make its music mute, as the poet says. Cousin Lucy was quite down in the mouth, altho' she tried to keep a stiff upper lip. The next summer, when I returned, Zelma Strother was Queen of your heart--or at least, Princess--and again everything was smooth. The next summer you were tapering off there--I became quite exasperated, and said to Aunt Maggie: "I do wish to the Great Horn Spoon that Allen Stith would get married. I don't know why he should cast a gloom over every other one of my summers!" I didn't come back the next summer, however, and it was several summers before I did return. Then Nell and I came together, Nell was going with Tom Moore, and there was a Colt Show in Bewleyville, and he came up to it, and insisted that she go home with him, drive back to Hardinsburg, and to my indignation, she left me to finish my visit alone, and went. Zelma was down at Grandmother's at the time, and after the colt-show, (Aaron Moorman was there, and his colt won a ribbon, I believe) as we sat in Zelma's buggy, Nell was with Tom Moore, and Zelma and I had driven up together, you came up to speak to us, and my wish had come true--you were married, and had one or two children, at that time. I believe that is the last time that I have ever seen you, and I have never seen any of your children. I do not doubt that they are fine-looking children, however, there seemed to be good looks on all sides. I remember how good-looking John Hicks was, when you used to bring him along to amuse me when you were courting Cousin Lucy or Zelma, or they were courting you, or however it was. Wasn't he your first cousin, on your mother's side? I have that impression. I was very sorry to hear that he was dead, Ruth Fontaine told me, when she and Lottie Bandy were out here, and came to call one afternoon. I liked Ruth very much, altho' I didn't get to talk to her very long. She wrote me, after returning to Brandenburg, and I am planning to answer her letter very soon. When, and if, I get back to Kentucky, I want to go to Brandenburg, which was Mother's birth-place, and I hope to see Stith's Valley, also, another place I have never been, to my knowledge. I've been over at your father's place, with Cousin Lucy, one afternoon, when they were threshing. Is that in Stith's Valley? We walked over--so it couldn't have been far from Uncle Charlie's. May be I was right there, and did not realize it. Do you know who was the Stith who was Clyde Shumate's mother? And who was the Olivia Stith who was Mr. Peyton Henderson's second wife? Mother said that she was a sister of Mr. Junius Stith, and if they were any kin to her, didn't know it. I think all Stiths are kin, originally, however. I hope you'll write again, and answer all the questions that I have asked you, if you know, and any information that I can give you, I will be glad to do so. I am always planning to write a book, but never seem to get right down to it. Remember me to Miss Lena, and I hope to see you if I get back to Kentucky next summer. They discourage traveling for civilians, unless they have a very good excuse, and I haven't one, so I may not make it. I keep hoping the War will be over. An example of wishful thinking. Hope is about all that is left in my Pandora box, however, so I'll hang on to it awhile longer. With all good wishes, I remain
Mary Peyton Dent.
P.S. I hate to waste all this good space--I was firmly resolved to cease upon the last page, but since I didn't quite make it, I'll write on a little longer. I am adding a list of Thomas Stith's children--his and Rhoda Jones, for although Rhoda, quite unperturbed by her eleven children, found courage to marry three times more, I never heard of it if she had any children by her other husbands. I only know their names, nothing of their History. Her Stith husband left her "well-fixed" as the expression goes--maybe they were old men who needed homes--and Rhoda evidently required romance--however it was, and, as I have said, I don't know, the following is the list of her children, as given by Robert Morris Stith, whose grandfather, Benjamin Buckner Stith, was her youngest son. I thought that, as Miss Lena has lived in that neighborhood all her life, she might know some of these people, her great-uncles and aunts, that I have never heard of.
October 8, 1768 Jan. 11, 1777
1. Richard Stith, Feb. 22, 1794
m. Feb 13, 1817 Catharine Saunders
she m. 2nd Sept 10, 1842 Wm. G. Moore
2. Betsey Stith, Dec. 23, 1795 my ancestress, m. Achilles Moorman.
3. (Martha) Patsey Stith, March 10, 1798 m. Jesse P. Moorman
4. Thomas J. Stith, June 10, 1800 m. Nov. 17, 1823 Mary McGuffin
5. Polly W. Stith, July 1st, 1802 m. William Jones (Hardin Co.)
not named in any of papers regarding heirs
6. Harriett Stith, July 10, 1804 m. Wm. Henry Hardaway, Grandpa Hardaway's mother
7. Nancy Stith, Aug. 19, 1806 m. James Drury, I have seen her marriage license, and it was given as Nancy W.
8. William Jones Stith, Apr. 23, 1809 m. Evaline Jones
9. Joseph Stith, Aug. 9, 1811 not named in any papers regarding heirs
10. Lucy Katherine Stith, Feb. 23, 1814 m. Oct 7, 1830 Jesse Jones
11. Benj. B. Stith, Apr. 18, 1816 m Cordelia Sanders.
I think that one of the sisters married a Jones, also, and lived in Virginia, for I have heard Mother tell about Cousin Elma's wedding night. She was marrying in the church at B-ville and Mother was her maid-of-honor. Father was best man, and he and Cousin Frank Morton were driving up to Uncle Ben's to get Cousin Elma and Mother. Uncle Ben was very bitterly opposed to the marriage--and how right he was--and he came in the room as she and Mother were dressing, and begged her to go away with him. He said that he had a negro man with a horse and buggy waiting out at the back of the farm, and if she'd come along they'd drive to Muldraugh and take the train to Louisville, and from there, they'd go to Virginia to his sister, and she could spend a year or so with her. Cousin Elma said: "Oh, no, Daddy, I couldn't do that." He stayed pleading with her until they could hardly get ready in time. It seems to me that Mother said that this sister was a Mrs. Jones, and had a wealthy husband, and a beautiful home. Uncle Ben was quite a character, and Mother has talked a good deal about him, and his idiosyncrasies. He didn't approve of Mother's match, either. "Don't marry him, Emmy," he said to her once. "He'll never make you a living." "Why do you say that, Uncle Ben?" Mother asked him. "His feet are too little" said Uncle Ben. Mother and Cousin Elma went their own way, however, with only a laugh for Uncle Ben, it appears.
Who was the Stith who was Truman Hardaway's wife's mother, do you know? Another link in the endless chain. This letter has been written on the installment plan, and shows it, in the words omitted, and the careless composition. I hope that you can make heads or tails of it, and would recommend that you read it on a rainy day, when there is nothing better that you can be doing, unless it would be to take a nap. And perhaps you are like Grandma Hardaway, who always though it a waste of time to sleep in the day. Mother says that she used to stand at the door to the stairway and call her at intervals when she was napping--"Well, Emma, are you going to sleep your life away?" However, Mother lived to be twelve years older than Grandmother, and died by accident at last, so it must have been good for her.