Adrian "Ada" Belle Vardaman
Updated 20 Feb 2016
Updated 3 Jun 2009
21.00--Richard Gwin; lived near Jamestown, Virginia, said to be of Scotch Irish descent; m. Sarah Chesley; at least one son:
22.00--Isham Gwin, b. ca. 1770 in VA; d. ca. 1833 in IN; m. ca. 1788 in VA to Mary Canterbury; 10 ch.:
23.04--John Gwin (middle name unk.)--b. in what was then Greene or Sevier Co., NC (later TN) 7 Nov 1792; d. 7 Mar 1877 at Wilsonville, AL; m. 8 Apr 1812 in Blount Co., TN, by Joseph Walker to Jane Walker, d.o. Thomas Walker, Sr., and Elizabeth Magill, both of VA; 9 (10?) ch.;
24.04--William Gwin (middle name unk.)--b. 18 Dec 1820 at Cahaba, AL; d. 29 Apr 1889 at Wilsonville, AL, bd. there also; m. 12 May 1842 to Roseann Carlisle Jones Wilson (b. 22 Aug 1822; d. 29 Mar 1907 at Tampa, FL; bd. at Wilsonville, AL). [October 1999--Barbara Ward wrote: Found a marriage record Dallas County (AL) for a Wm. Guin and Rosa Ann Wilson 13 May 1842.]
25.03--William Sutton Gwin --my great-grandfather, b. 5 Jun 1848 at Cahaba, AL; d. 11 Sep 1916; m. 2 Dec 1868 to Ida Eliza Basset (b. 5 May 1845 in Worthing, Sussex Co., England; d. 8 Dec 1907; 12 children
26.01--Ida M. Gwin b. 5 Jul 1869; d. as infant 25 Jul 1870
26.02--William Bassett Gwin --b. 12 Dec 1870; d. as infant 30 Nov 1871.
26.03--James Bassett Gwin I--(see below)
26.04--Kate Lula Gwin b. 4 Jul 1874; d. 22 Aug 1953; never married
26.05--William Sutton Gwin, Jr. (called "Duck") b. 25 Dec 1875; d. 1956 (?); m. 18 May 1909 to Georgia Craft
26.06--John Louis Gwin b. 30 Sep 1877; d. 18 May 1942 in Arizona; m. 19 May 1906 to Ruth Irwin
26.07--Lucy Jane Gwin b. 13 Jan 1879; d. 18 Nov (1957?) in Prescott, AZ; m. 18 May 1898 to Lawson Rochester Hebb
26.08--George Henry Gwin b. 10 Feb 1882 at Wilsonville, AL, d. 8 Aug 1953; m. 27 Dec 1908 to Valera L. Riddle; 7 ch.
26.09--Maggie Bassett Gwin b. 14 May 1882; d. 1 Aug 1882--- died as infant
26.10--Unk. Gwin d. as infant
26.11--Nellie Densler Gwin b. 2 Apr 1887; d. 24 Oct 1948; m. George Marshal Marable; 1 ch.
26.12--Peter King Gwin, Sr. b. 17 Oct 1888; d. 30 Jun 1956; m. 3 May 1911 to Betty Kate Cartwright; 3 ch.
Left: Adabelle; her mother, Julia Ann Flynn Vardaman; and Jim and Ada's first two children, James (J.B. Gwin II), top left, and J.V. "Vardaman".
Right: L-R: Julia, J.V., James Bassett "Jim" Gwin, Sr., and James.
These must have been taken about 1914, as Julia Ida is not yet born. It is not clear whether the family had traveled back to Coosa Co. to visit with Ada's mother or if her mom was visiting with them in Anniston. (It is clearly too early for them to be living in Selma, as this move did not occur until Julia was born.) James appears to be a little older in the second picture and with shorter hair than in the first, suggesting that these photos were taken on different visits.
Funeral services for Conductor J. B. Gwin, who lost his life in the wreck of the Akron train Sunday evening near Greensboro, were held at 2 o'clock this afternoon from the Gwin residence, 2101 Broad Street, by Dr. John A. Davison, pastor of the First Baptist Church, and the Rev. E. W. Gamble, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Many sorrowing friends crowded the home and stood with bared heads about the porch and in the yard, paying their tribute of respect to a man who in life had commanded esteem and a full mead of friendship from his fellow workers and acquaintances.
Words of comfort for the stricken widow and four small children were spoken in the beautiful funeral service, and masses of beautiful flowers bore silent testimony to the sympathy of hundreds of friends here and in other parts of Alabama.
Interment was made in Live Oak cemetery, pall bearers being Southern Railway conductors who had been closely associated with Mr. Gwin in his long years of service on the railroad and including, besides Capt. J. D. Riggs, whose place Conductor Gwin was supplying when he met his death, S.T. Walker, J. A. Freeman, S. E. Farrington, D. G. Mott, H. H. Hillman.
Gathered here for the last services were relatives from several distant points in Alabama and Georgia, among these being Mrs. Julia Vardaman, mother of Mrs. Gwin, and Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Webb, the latter a sister of Mrs. Gwin, all of Alexander City; Miss Kate Gwin and W. S. Gwin of Birmingham, George H. Gwin of Manchester, Ga., T. K. Gwin of Tuscaloosa, and Mrs. G. M. Marable of Talladega, all brothers and sisters of the deceased. A cousin, Emmett Gwin of Mississippi, arrived Tuesday morning in time to attend the funeral.
26.03--James Bassett Gwin I, b. 21 Apr 1872 at Frog Level, AL, near Bellevue, in Dallas Co.; d. 21 Oct 1921 under the wreck of Southern Railway #17 near Greensboro, AL, as conductor of the train; bd. Tues, 23 Oct, in the Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, AL; m. 22 Feb 1909 in Birmingham, AL, to Adrian ("Ada") Belle Vardaman (b. 3 Feb. 1877 in Coosa Co., AL; d. 26 Feb 1954 in New Orleans, LA; bd. at Smyrna Primitive Baptist Ch. Cem., 2-3 mi. ese of Goodwater, AL); four children; ten grandchildren (2 of these adopted);
(28.01) Rose Elizabeth "Betty" White, [PRIVATE]; m. James "Jimmy" Stewart [PRIVATE];
(29.01) James Reese Stewart, [PRIVATE];
(29.02) William Mark Stewart, [PRIVATE];
(29.03) Martence Renae Stewart, [PRIVATE];(28.02) Juanita Ann Brister, [PRIVATE]; Juanita Kate Gwin; [PRIVATE]; m1. Christopher Lyn Engelbracht, Sr.; [PRIVATE]; m2. Scott Russell; [PRIVATE]; (family photos);(29.01) Christopher Lyn Engelbracht, Jr., [PRIVATE]; m. Kellie Parent, [PRIVATE];
(30.01) Christopher Quinn "Quinn" Engelbract, [PRIVATE];(29.02) stepson Alex Russell [PRIVATE];
(30.02) Lila Kate Engelbract, [PRIVATE];
28.01--John Vardaman Gwin, Jr. facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Mildred Karon "Karon" Maner facebook friend [PRIVATE];JVG m2. on 14 Dec 1946 to Marian Sue McQuiddy, no children; (div.)29.01--Bryan Vardaman Gwin, [PRIVATE];
29.02--Owen Gwin, [PRIVATE]; m. Shannon Harris, facebook friend [PRIVATE];
30.01--Emma Gwin, facebook friendship requested [PRIVATE];29.03--Kristin Gwin, facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Alex Rodriguez, facebook friend [PRIVATE];
30.02--Evan Gwin, [PRIVATE];
27.03--Julia Ida Gwin, b. 12 Dec 1914 at Selma, AL; d. 8 Feb 1993 and bd. in Hilo, HI; m. 29 Mar 1937, while he was living in her mother's boarding house in New Orleans, to Dr. Walter Sun Look Loo (b. ca. 1912; d. 5 Jul 1993; bd. in HI; of Hilo, HI); div. 19(45?); Julia played concert piano and violin, taught school, served as an independent missionary; 2 children;28.02--Sheila Adrian Gwin, b. ; d. 23 Aug 2016 in Laurel, MS; bd. Laurel, MS; m. never; no ch.; (family photos);
[John M. Gwin Note: Sheila's obituary is taken from the 30 Aug 2016 online edition of the Laurel Leader-Call:
Sheila Adrian Gwin, 65, passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 23, 2016.
A celebration of Sheila’s life will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Hitchin’ Poste/Cajun Kitchen, 1707 Highway 184 East in Laurel.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. John Vardaman Gwin and Catherine Larkin Gwin.
A passionate advocate for animal rights, Sheila took numerous animals into her home. She fed them, provided medical care and loved them while attempting to find permanent homes for these forgotten animals. Her devotion to animal rescue had no limits. During Hurricane Katrina, she not only went to the Gulf Coast and assisted in rescue, she rescued several dogs, brought them to her home, and made them part of her family.
As a native of Laurel, Sheila was very active during high school at R.H. Watkins, graduating in 1969. Music and tennis were her forté, and she excelled at these events. After graduation, she attended LSU as a music major. In addition, she attended the University of Southern Mississippi and Northwestern University in Chicago. These college pursuits were to allow her to follow her dream to move to New York City.
True to her dream, she arrived in NYC following college and lived there for many years. During her tenure in the Big Apple, she worked as an assistant producer for CBS news “60 Minutes.” Later, she moved to Washington, D.C., and continued work in television with ABC.
Due to the poor health of her parents, Sheila came home to Laurel to care for John and Catherine. Again, she demonstrated her generous and unselfish heart. After her parents passed away, she decided to stay in Laurel and continued work as a paralegal.
She is survived by her brother Dan Gwin and sister-in-law Diane Gwin; half-brother John Gwin; nephew Jason Gwin and wife Jennifer Gwin; grand-nieces Breanna Tolbert and Aubrey Rose Gwin, all of Laurel; sister Eileen Gwin Austin and husband Jay Austin of Montrose, Colo.; and nephew Jay Austin, Jr., and wife Jingran Wang Austin and son Tenne SiJing Austin, of Stockholm, Sweden.
There are numerous relatives across the country and friends who shared Sheila’s friendship. The family thanks everyone for their kind words and remembrances.
The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Southern Cross Animal Rescue or to the Animal Rescue League of Laurel or a shelter of your choice.
Memory Chapel is in charge of arrangements.]
28.03--Eileen Larkin Gwin, facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Jay Austin (family photos) facebook friend; [PRIVATE];29.01--Jay Austin, Jr., [PRIVATE]; m. Jingran Wang [PRIVATE];
30.01--Tenne SiJing Austin, [PRIVATE];28.04--Daniel Vardaman "Dan" Gwin, facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Brenda Diane "Diane" Thames, facebook friend [PRIVATE]; (family photos);29.01--Jason Hughes Gwin, facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Jennifer E. Gatzemeyer "Jeni" Tolbert, [PRIVATE];(30.01)--Breanna Nicole Tolbert, [PRIVATE];
30.02--Aubrey Rose Gwin, [PRIVATE];
28.01--Walter Sai Pung Loo, [PRIVATE]; m. unk. (family photos);27.04--Adrian Sutton Gwin b. 12 Sep 1916 at Selma, AL; d. 7 May 2001 in Las Cruces, NM, after a long bout with heart disease; m. 11 Aug 1942 at New Orleans when she was a Tulane summer school student and a boarder at the Gwin home to Dorothy Lee Keeney (b. 10 Feb 1915 near Belle, WV; d. 31 May 2005 in Las Cruces, NM, age 90 years, 3 months, and 21 days); they lived in St. Albans, WV, from WW2 to November 1999; Adrian honorably served with the US Army in Europe, WWII; active charter member, Sunday School teacher, and Boy Scouts of America Institutional Representative at Highlawn Baptist Church, St. Albans; semi-retired feature writer for the Charleston Daily Mail (wrote daily two semi-monthly columns from the mid 1940's until his death--click here for some reprints of a few of those columns) and author of four books; Eagle Scout and Lifetime member of the BSA since about 1932; loving husband and companion for almost 59 years; pace-setting and loving father for almost 54; Dot taught high school, elementary, and junior high school students in a West Virginia teaching career that spanned some three decades; served as art supervisor for Kanawha Co. Schools; coached girls' softball and basketball, sang in the choir, and taught Special Ed Sunday School class for years at Highlawn Baptist Ch.; designed and [had] built her nine-room dream home at 7 Keiffer Drive, St. Albans, where they lived from 1960 to 1999; loving wife and companion for almost 59 years; pace-setting and loving mother for 57; Adrian and Dot have two sons, five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and just under a billion others who have lovingly called them Brother, Sister, Uncle, Aunt, Cousin, or Friend;
29.01--son Loo, [PRIVATE];28.02--Michael Kai On Loo, b. 31 Oct 1942; d. 30 Jan 1945
28.01--John McDonald Gwin b. near their home in St. Albans,WV; m. in St. Albans, WV, to Sharon Lynn Hamrick facebook friend; both are retired from teaching school (with 67 years' experience between them!) in Las Cruces, NM; e.mail firstname.lastname@example.org; (family photos);29.01--Jeremiah Scott Gwin facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Kara Marie Douglas, M. D., facebook friend [PRIVATE];28.02--Patrick Forsythe Gwin, b. 14 Feb 1951 at South Charleston, WV, near the home in St. Albans; d. Feb 2008 in Witcher, Kanawha Co., WV; m1. Sheryl "Sherry" Ruffner [PRIVATE]; (div.); 2 ch.; (family photos); m2. Vonda Kay Sigmon Mitchell; [PRIVATE]; (div.);
29.02--Charity Elizabeth Gwin facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Beau Scott Pihlaja facebook friend [PRIVATE];
30.01--Asher Samuel Neeraj Pihlaja, [PRIVATE];
30.02--Cressida Noel Pihlaja [PRIVATE];
29.03--Sarah Joy Gwin facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Jason Deane Johnson, Sr. facebook friend ; [PRIVATE];30.01--Jason Deane "J. D." Johnson, Jr., [PRIVATE];
30.02--Ryan Jonathan Johnson, [PRIVATE];
30.03--Tate Austin Johnson, [PRIVATE];
30.04--Zachary Jacob Johnson, [PRIVATE];29.01--Courtney Elaine Gwin facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Neal Schott [PRIVATE]; (div.)PFG m2. on 22 Jul 1989 in Nitro, WV, near home, St. Albans, WV, to Vonda Kay Sigmon Mitchell [PRIVATE]; (div.)
29.02--Lauren Elissa Gwin facebook friend [PRIVATE]; m. Charles Spurlock [PRIVATE]; (div.)
This is the last known photo of the four children of Jim and Ada Vardaman Gwin together:
L-r: Dr. John Vardaman "J.V." Gwin, Adrian Sutton Gwin, James Basset Gwin II, and Julia Ida Gwin Loo.
They had gathered in Laurel, Mississippi, to celebrate the wedding of
J.V.'s younger daughter, Eileen Larkin Gwin, to Jay Austin.
James would die shortly after on 1 Mar 1984.
|18 Charleston Daily
Mail Monday, March 8, 1954
Roving the Valley
* * *
With Friends And Neighbors
By ADRIAN GWIN
She went to work in 1901 as a telegraph operator. Miss Adrian Vardaman was a country girl, but in 1909 she had been around. After finishing Alabama College in Montevallo, she worked for Western Union, then the Southern Railroad.
| At the little station in
Brierfield where she was agent-telegrapher, she would
stand before the bay window of the office when a certain
freight train went by. Big Jim Gwin would be
standing atop a box car.
His good left hand would be twirling up a Bull Durham cigarette while he waved to her with his thumbless right hand as he passed the station riding the roof of his train. He was a conductor, a handsome, big man.
They were married on Feb. 22, 1909, in Birmingham. On the train going up, Miss Adrian was wearing her bridal dress of dusty rose, a nice color to be married in. Conductor Voltz stopped by her seat as the train pulled into the station. All his life he had worn a fresh red rose in the lapel of his uniform, every day.
Now he took his red rose and pinned it to Miss Adrian's dress. "Wear it, sis, for luck," he said.
She loved flowers, and especially roses. So when Adrian Vardaman became Mrs. James B. Gwin that Washington's birthday in 1909, she wore a red rose on her dusty pink dress.
As Jim started in the coach to take up the passenger's ticket, he felt a disturbance from the engine. Thirty-five years on trains told him something was wrong, bad wrong. He reached for the emergency cord as the coach hit the broken rail, and Jim went out the window, pinned from the waist down.
----------------Mrs. Adrian Vardaman Gwin returned to her telegraphy for the railroad. The four small children became "railroad gypsies," as their mother "traipsed around all over the
country," going where her telegraphy took her.Mrs. Gwin shipped hay from the prairie town of Browns; loaded cattle and gum logs from the swamp-town of McDowell; billed out more than a hundred cars of coal a day from the mining town of Aldrich; worked with the men at the smaller coal community of Straven; shipped turkeys and wool and milk from Gallion.
The children were nearly grown when the railroad put her on the "extra board." She returned to Anniston where she and Jim had bought a home 20 years before. Roomers helped out a bit.
With a son in medical school and the money gone, she struck out for New Orleans, La., to open a boarding house. Her boundless energy, her unfailing spirit, and her determination that working wins everything, saw her through.
| She put four
children through college. And she enjoyed every
minute of it. She worked like a section hand
every day of her life. She laughed easily, and
made friends quickly. She had "beaus" every year
of her life while she worked for the railroad, and in
her later years she often went to see her old friends.
She drove a car for years, sold it in 1934. Then in 1950, past 70 years old, she bought for cash a big Buick that she had wanted for 16 years. She drove it through New Orleans whenever she wished, and she drove it back to Alabama any number of times.
After a heart attack in 1950 she slowed down a bit. She quit painting the house each summer. She hired a part-time maid to look after the eight rooms of her rooming house. She quit papering the walls of the rooms each year, and she began to call the plumber instead of fixing the leaky commode herself.
After all, she was 75 and more, and a person could afford to slow down a little. But she still drove her car, still dug in her flower yard to plant sweet peas on the first full moon in October. She continued to wash two dozen sheets from her bedrooms each week. But she had an automatic washer, so that wasn't too much trouble.
She took flowers to her neighbors almost every day, big bunches of nasturtiums and sweet peas and African daisies.
| It was Feb. 22,
1954. Forty-five years to the day since she was
married. They took her to Touro infirmary and made
When her youngest son flew in from West Virginia a couple of days later, she was alert and cross. "Why does a person have to be in bed! There's so much to be done!" she said.
Two days later she was sleeping peacefully when the magnificent heart of hers gave out. The chief dispatcher was calling and her head went up as she heard her name. Then she was gone.
She took the night train out of New Orleans for her last trip back to Alabama. They lifted her annual pass as she started the familiar overnight journey to Birmingham. The railrod she had lived for from 1901 to 1936 took her home.
Redbirds and mockingbirds were singing in the woods near the little church as she was laid to rest in the old Smyrna cemetery near Kelleyton, two miles from her native home.
And she wore at her breast a big red sweet pea from her yard, one of the flowers she loved.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Daily Mail columnist Adrian Gwin resumes his writing with the above column after a week's absence in the south during the illness and death of his mother.)
Gwin NOTE, Mar 29, 2016: Last month,
almost 15 years after he died, I found in one of Dad’s
file cabinet drawers the copy from which I am
transcribing this: five double-spaced pages on old Daily
Mail newsprint in Dad’s unmistakable typewritten
style. I don’t know if it was ever published, but
it was in the same format he used to submit his work
that WAS published, so maybe it was. It is
undated, but the clues in the story get us pretty close,
probably in the mid-1970's.]
I saw him only once, though he is mine for eternity.
It was daytime, and I was sitting on the floor behind the screen door, looking out as the street car rolled to a stop. I must have known that he was coming home.
He stepped down, carrying his old leather grip and a brown paper bag, and he strode across the unpaved street and into the yard, up the steps, and then he set the grip down and with one great arm he picked me up. I was still crying.
His voice when he spoke was like the voice of the big steam engines which pulled his trains—like the rumble of the trains themselves: big and powerful and overwhelming and yet soothing, comforting, and reassuring.
“What’s the matter with my little man?” he said. And then he reached into the paper bag and handed me a huge red apple, the biggest, reddest red apple I ever saw, even to this day.
And with my face so close to his, I saw him. I remember him for that time only.
That one time I saw my father.
He was a railroad conductor, and a good one. When the circus trains came into Alabama, they always asked for Big Jim Gwin to handle the trains.
When a special was being made up for an excursion, Big Jim was always assigned to conduct the train.
He started work for the railroad when he was 14, and he
was a man then, big enough to carry off the 18 years that
he told them he was. He needed the job, and he lied
about his age to get it, as a brakeman.
He paid for the lie. Before he was 17, his right thumb was smashed off in a link-and-pin coupling, an accident of inexperience, of immaturity. But he worked for 35 years for the railroad with no thumb on his right hand, and his handwriting was as smoothly flowing a script as that of a Spencerian scholar.
He had a phenomenal memory. He could walk along a string of boxcars on a siding and minutes later in his caboose, he could jot down the numbers of the cars from memory, and identify each one as a boxcar, a flatcar, a “gong” (gondola), or “reefer” (refrigerator).
He was a lusty big man, and he enjoyed living, enjoyed railroading, enjoyed working— my, how he could work!
Once when he was riding the top of a boxcar, the wind tousling his thick, black hair, he started to roll a Bull Durham cigarette—left-handed, of course, because he had no thumb on his right. And the train passed a little station called Brierfield, and Big Jim’s heart got caught up in the briar patch.
The pretty young woman telegraph operator waved to him as he passed the station, and he waved back to her with his right hand, as he twisted the cigarette in the fingers of the other hand, and licked it, then with a sweeping motion, he struck a wooden match with one swipe across the seat of his overalls, and lit the cigarette.
They were married in 1909, and I was the fourth of his children, born seven years later.
And so I was perhaps four years old, and the year was about 1920, when I saw him that time.
“What’s the matter with my little man!”
I saw him, and I can see him today,
just as he looked in that
time when I was so close to him.
Nor do I remember ever really seeing him before, or since. There must have been other times, but they do not recall themselves to me even when I try to remember him. I do remember holding onto his perfectly huge hand with both of mine, and running my fingers over the great round stump of his thumb, and then shivering with the delighted reassurance that his was indeed my dad, so identifiable among others because of the missing thumb.
We have pictures of him, several as a young man, some taken only a few years before he “went away”, as my mother always referred to it. But the pictures do not look like Dad looked that time I saw him.
He went away in October of 1921.
He had been on his regular run for three days, and when he carried his grip into the depot to check out and go home, the agent at the terminal handed him a note.
A brother conductor was ill and could not take the short overnight run to Akron, and would Jim take it for him?
He did. And 30 minutes later, the train wrecked on a broken rail, pinning him from the waist down.
I remember that Aunt Kate held me up to the casket to see my daddy “for the last time,” she said. I remember there were dark places on the face of the man in the casket—and I remember asking why. But I cannot remember what the man in the casket looked like.
I know now that during all the years I was growing up on the railroad, in the little depots along the Southern in Middle Alabama, in the three-car passenger trains that carried me to and from school for several years, the railroad men treated me like I was one of their own children. All of us, they did.
| We were Jim
Gwin’s orphans, I know now, and every flagman, every
conductor, every porter, every baggageman and fireman
and engineer was looking out for us—because we were
Big Jim’s kids, and he was their brother who had given
his life for a fellow conductor.
All this I know now, more than fifty years after he “went away”.
When I was a stringy little kid, I often talked to him in my prayers, for that was the only time I could talk to him, don’t you see? He was up there with God, and when God was listening, wouldn’t Dad be listening, too? It may sound a little sacrilegious to say such things, but I’ve talked to Dad off and on for more than 50 years—and the only time I ever really saw him was that once in 1920.
I remember standing beside him once in the bathroom as he used the commode. I was holding his hand, and my eyes were level with the source of the stream he was putting into the commode, but I do not remember what he looked like that day.
I remember that one day he came into his bedroom and found me absorbed in punching hatchecks with his ticket punch, and I remember that Mother spanked me for it. But I cannot remember what he looked like that day.
I remember one Christmas season when he came home bearing big bundles of packages, and I remember him setting them down in the front living room, but I cannot remember what he looked like.
But I can see his big rough face as he held me on his shoulder that day and said, “What’s the matter with my little man!”—see him as clearly as if it were happening right now.
It was the only time that I ever saw my dad, and it is enough, for I have him today, though he’s been “gone away” for more than 50 years.
When I see him again, I know he’ll look exactly like that—for he is my dad.
From the 1 Jun 1870 census of Wilsonville, Beat #9, Shelby Co., AL
From the 19 Jun 1880 Census of Wilsonville, Shelby Co., AL
From the 1 Jun 1900 census of Selma, Dallas Co., AL
From the 18 Jun 1900 census of Pct. 3, Sacofotay, Coosa Co., AL
From the 5 Jan 1920 census of Beat 15, Anniston, Calhoun Co., AL
Sharing! You may Post or delete or save for yourself! I will send several of these analysis`~~~~Wanda Lou
Mr. JAMES B. GWIN of Metairie, LA, one of our newest members, writes that he is a descendant of Coosa County pioneers and has in his possession some memorabilia pertaining to our county's history that he wishes to donate to our museum. Mr. Gwin states that his mother was raised on the Vardaman farm near Goodwater, Alabama, and relatives are still residing in that area. We very much appreciate Mr. Gwin and look forward to hearing from him again. He also states that among his many relics are some records pertaining to the Vardaman family and many names on papers which might be of value to our society. Mr. Gwin hopes to be able to attend the official opening of our museum. We trust this date will soon be forthcoming. Mr. Gwin has prepared a cabinet of artifacts owned by his Confederate grandfather which contains scraps of Confederate history that he brought back from the War. THANK YOU, MR. GWIN!
Mr. Gwin is the son of Adrian "Ada" Belle Vardaman who was the daughter of John Forsythe Vardaman, who was the son of Edwy and Lucinda Mauk, early settlers of Coosa County, Alabama. John Forsythe Vardaman is Mielda Vardaman's brother and great granduncle to the Ralph and Myrtle Kilpatric children.
THE VARDAMAN FAMILY MUSEUM COLLECTION, A HISTORICAL TREASURE
A veritable treasure chest is found when you peer into the drawers and behind the doors of the Vardaman family's memorial chest at the Old Rock Jail Museum. You are swept back back over 140 years in time to the era of the War Between the States, which spanned from 1861 through 1865. You can also hear the bugles and see the gleaming sabers being unsheathed and held aloft. You can literally look into the tin-type photographed faces of the men and women who lived in a time, the tales of which still leave us spellbound.
A beautiful, elaborately scrolled, wooden chest holds the Vardaman family's richly documented contribution to history. Inscribed in the wood, on the board across the bottom of the chest are the words "This 18"-wide board was cut from the Vardaman plantation around 1920 by Webb Lumber Co., A specimen of the majestic pine timber of Coosa County." At the top of the chest sets a painting of the Vardaman homestead.
The information collected within the treasure chest of Vardaman history was taken from the analyses written by the late James Bassett Gwin, Jr. He chronicled 112 documents, many of then preserved by his mother, who saved pictures and letters, songs, etc. brought home by John Forsythe Vardaman from the Civil War. Gwin also built the beautiful chest that stores the Vardaman family collection. He came to Rockford in 1981 for an Arts and Crafts Festival in a Confederate uniform he had made himself, recalled Mary G. Teel, a member of the Coosa County Historical Society. At that time, he donated the chest and the collection to the Old Rock Jail Museum.
J. H. ("Jack") Vardaman, Jr., was also, a source of information on the history of his family and their donation to the museum. He is the great-grandson of Marshall E. and Clara O. ("Odie") Carlisle Vardaman; she was of Mt. Olive. His parents were Jesse Harris and Elsie Bell Vardaman. Jack resides in Alpharetta, Georgia, and is a researcher of genealogy.
This summer (2000) Jack met with the great-great granddaughter of Mielda Vardaman Killpatrick, Wanda Lou Kilpatrick Slack, and her husband Robert, spending three days with them and introducing Wanda Lou to her relatives of the 19th and 20th centuries. Wanda Lou is writing the history that follows:
Jack Vardaman met with us in Alexander City, Alabama.
Bob and Wanda travel in an RV and stayed in a campground near
Alexander City, Alabama. They would meet up with Jack those
next three mornings at the Hotel Jamison in Alexander City,
Alabama. The three, Bob, Wanda, and Jack, no longer
"Strangers in a Box", departed daily for a wild, historical
adventure back into the past.
The first day was spent in Rockford, Alabama, at the Old Rock Jail Museum. The following information was gleaned from this adventure.
Ambrotypes of Sergeant John Forsythe Vardaman and other Confederate soldiers were used in a 1978 Confederate Calendar. Wanda adds, "I do not have a copy of the calendar." Vardaman's picture was featured in the month of March. His final service with the Confederacy was in Company G, 2nd. Engineer Regiment, with the Army of Northern Virginia, C.S.A.
Brandishing his sword, he is pictured wearing a homemade plaid shirt. Over his left shoulder he wears a wide-strap leather satchel, possibly his courier pouch. Over his right shoulder is a saber strap that was used to counterbalance the weight of the sword. He holds the family Bible in his left hand.
John Forsythe Vardaman, born May 19, 1835, had two brothers, James Mathis Vardaman and William Sanford Vardaman. They were the children of Edwy Liles Vardaman and Lucinda Mauk Vardaman. James Mathis served as second musician in Coosa County, M.G. Slaughter's Company, Hilliard's Legion, Company C., Cavalry Batallion. Sadly, he died in battle ten days before the end of the war. Only 20 and never married, he died below Petersburg, VA, March 30, 1965, and is assumed to be buried somewhere in that area of Virginia.
William Sanford was a Private in Company G (Hillebee Blues), 14th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He died early in the war, May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Williamsburg. It is assumed he is buried in one of the battlefield cemeteries in the Petersburg/Richmond area.
John Forsythe Vardaman joined the Confederate Army in Rockford, enlisting in the 5th Batallion of Hilliard's Legion as a scribe, secretary, bookkeeper, as a recruiting officer, and as a courier during General Braggs' invasion of Kentucky.
Later he saw service in Tennessee. He was at Chickamauga, Knoxville, Bean Station, and Strawberry Plains. Before the Georgia Campaign, he was ordered to Virginia and to Captain John Howard's 2nd Engineer Regiment and served until the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox. Under John F. Vardaman's photograph on display in the museum collection, it is written of him: "Early planter, schoolmaster, Christian layman, Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, and county superintendent of education. (John was a well-read man).
Colonel John Hunt Morgan, who was killed by the Union Troops while resting in a house in 1864, was the subject of inspiration in a poem likely written by John F. Vardaman. At the top of the page the words "Camp Enginr. Troops, Blandfort, VA., 1864" are written. The last verse of this tribute is:
"Morgan! What a hero!
How fearless, and yet how benevolent!
How dashing and yet how firm!
Cautious but adventuresome!!
Deceiving, but always gentleman and a star in the 'Lincoln War.'
Alas he is gone. Death seeks its victims where e'er they be,
It matters not on land or sea.
Other songs or poems brought home by John depict characteristics of the human spirit; they reflect shifting emotions, which will draw a smile or, perhaps, a tear.
The Sonnets include: "Root Hog or Die" and "The Southern Wagon". There are also handwritten lyrics, complete with musical notes of a song about the state of Maryland, "The Bonnie Blue Flags"; a poem regarding the European conflict; and original notes of a song "Good News From Home," dated Feb. 26, 1860. There are many more songs and poems in the treasure chest of the Vardaman family in the Old Rock Jail Museum, Rockford, Alabama. The museum is open to the public. If you are interested in some history of the old south, put this museum on your list of must stop and visit.
From Mieldah Vardaman Killpatrick's Memories, a letter she had written to her brother John Forsythe in the 1860's, is as follows. Wanda Lou Kilpatric Slack has a copy of Mieldah's letter which is safeguarded in the Old Rock Jail Museum in the Vardaman family memorial chest donated to the museum in preservation of history during that period of time. The chest also contains documents related to the Civil War, brought home by Confederate Sergeant John Forsythe Vardaman, brother of Mieldah. These documents were preserved by his daughter Ada (Adrian) Vardaman Gwin, and donated by her son James Bassett Gwin, Jr., to the Old Rock Jail Museum located in Rockford, Alabama. The Coosa County News of Coosa County, Alabama published 3 Volumes of the Vardaman memories: Volume 8, No. 39, dated October 1, 1999; Volume 8, No. 41 dated October 15, 1999; and Vol. 8, No. 42, dated October 22, 1999.
A part of Mieldah's letter - all that was found was two pages. Most importantly, it was written and signed by her hand. Mieldah is the great-great grandmother of the editor of the Kilpatric Happenings document of family genealogy by Wanda Lou Kilpatric Slack. Mieldah is also great-great grandmother to the 10 children of Ralph Weatherford and Myrtle Florence Sass Kilpatric.
The following script is similar to Mieldah's handwriting as closely as could be matched from Word Processing fonts.
(one side of sheet)
And go subbing and scrubing about get and old hag wife and washing and go through the motion and say we have scourd
brother my garden has bin like yours not much the ground was good but it was all planted to late for the spring season and dry weather cut every thing off in it I have a few cabage and toberlele good turnips patch we have no sweet potatoes we could not get no seed in the spring so I will have to come to see you to eat sweet potatoes my health is about like it was when I wrote to you last not good but so much better than when I saw you I can tell just how I am when I don't do nothing but sit and sew ar knit I feel very well I feel like I could do any thing most of the time but I dare not do no hevy work at all it will put me in the bed quick I can go to see sis every two or three days by taking my time walking slow and teston the way but feel which I start like I could walk it in a few minutes but I do not she lives a little over hald mile if you was to see me to day you would not think but what I could do anything I wanted to I feel well and am hatry and look as well as you have seen me in years and feel to the rest has all had good health except the whooping cough the five youngest children all had it some then had dangerisly bad but have all got about well Ma Carter and sis was here last night they are well they said they would write to you as soon we are all out of paper here
(other side of sheet)
and the cholery is raging in all of our inland town such as Huntsville Fayetsville nashville and we country crackers don't visit then at this time so when we get out of anything we do with our and expect to until that disease leaves our there has bin a great dal of sickness here more than has bin in years fore so the old settlers say but very few deaths but sickness very hard I was sorry to here of the death of Mrs burns sis has had very bad heald all of this year every since about six weeks after she was married she was takeing very singerles she walked our one day in her garden to pick some sallet for dinner and was struck with blindness pain in the back and hips and something like gravel and could not stand on her feet a minute and remained in that situation for several weeks her husband brought her home we had to work with her to save her she was long time I thought she wood never get well no more but she is so she can spin some and I am in hopes after a few months she will have her health again but I am afraid that she never will but don't let on to her she has bin very low spirited all the year but one consolation she has as good husband as ever lived I recon so far as bing kind to her he could not be no more so if he just can see her on her feet or out of bed he is all right he is all right any how it has bin bad on him I love him he bears his trials with so much patients be sure to write Miedla v Kilpatric, to J. F Vardaman's wife
Mieldah's letter written in more readable Font------
(one side of sheet)
This is the way that Great-great-grandmother Mieldah Vardaman wrote; no punctuation, no paragraphs and spelling like it sounds! God Bless her!
And go subbing and scrubing about get and old hag wife and washing and go through the motion and say we have scourd brother my garden has bin like yours not much the ground was good but it was all planted to late for the spring season and dry weather cut every thing off in it I have a few cabage and toberlele good turnips patch we have no sweet potatoes we could not get no seed in the spring so I will have to come to see you to eat sweet potatoes my health is about like it was when I wrote to you last not good but so much better than when I saw you I can tell just how I am when I don't do nothing but sit and sew or knit I feel very well I feel like I could do any thing most of the time but I dare not do no hevy work at all it will put me in the bed quick I can go to see sis every two or three days by taking my time walking slow and rest on the way but feel which I start like I could walk it in a few minutes but I do not she lives a little over half mile if you was to see me to day you would not think by what I could do anything I wanted to I feel well and am harty and look as well as you have seen min in years and feel to the rest has all had good health except the whooping cough the five youngest children all had it some then had dangerisly bad but have all got about well Ma Carter and sis was here last night they are well they said they would write to you as soon we are all out of paper here
(other side of sheet)
and the cholery is raging in all of our inland town such as Huntsville Fayetsville nashville and we country crackers don't visit then at this time so when we get out of anything we do with our and expect to until that disease leaves our there has bin a great deal of sickness here more than has bin in years fore so the old settlers say but very few deaths but sickness very hard I was sorry to here of the death of Mrs burns sis has had very bad health all of this year every since about six weeks after she was married she was takeing it very gingerly she walked out one day in her garden to pick some sallet for dinner and was struck with blindness pain in the back and hips and something like gravel and could not stand on her feet a minute and remained in that situation for several weeks her husband brought her home we had to work with her to save her she was long time I thought she wood never get well no more but she is so she can spin some and I am in hopes after a few months she will have her health again but I am afraid that she never will but don't let on to her she has bin very low spirited all the year but one consolation she has as good husband as ever lived I recon so far as bing kind to her he could not be no more so if he just can see her on her feet or out of bed he is all right he is all right any how it has bin bad on him I love him he bears his trials with so much patients be sure to write (Mielda V. Kilpatric to J. F. Vardaman's wife (This is the way it ended)
#John B. Gwin analyzed Mieldah's handwriting as being traditional old south talk. He pointed out the fact that she did not use punctuation. Her writing indicates that she did receive schooling. He also made note that he thought that Mieldah was one of John Forsythe's favorite sisters. She was the eldest child of Edwy and Lucinda Mauk Vardaman. Mielda married Israel Thomas Kilpatric when she was only 16 years of age. Israel was 24 years old. Mieldah and Israel had 12 children. Mielda died in January of 1884. She was 58 years of age at death. Israel was still living in 1900 according to the Madison County Census. I have not traced down his exact date of death to date. Mieldah and Israel are both buried in the Concord Presbyterian Church yard Cemetery in Hazel Green, Alabama. There are headstones. Israel's headstone is in error. It read Issac T. Kilpatric (d) 1898), I am still searching for date of death. According to the 1900 Census of Madison County, Israel was living with his son-in-law James M. Carter and daughter Minerva Carolina Killpatrick near New Market, Alabama. (Wanda Lou)
This picture is of Mielda's 6 sisters. It is thought that this picture was taken perhaps at the funeral of their older sister, our great-great grandmother Mielda Vardaman Killpatrick. Mielda died in January of 1884 in Madison County, Alabama.
These are the Vardaman sisters, who were from Coosa County,
Alabama. This photograph is dated around 1990, but if it
were at Mielda's funeral it would be 1884. The sisters are
not all identified, but the one I have named them in order of
their seated and standing alignment, (L-R)
Bruce Adair born April 18, 1832 in Meriwether County, GA,
Died May 2, 1909,
Tomme Holloway McPhail, born November 1, 1936 and died
May 24, 1922 and is buried at Hatchet Creek Presbyterian Church
Cemetery in Clay County, Alabama; (note) Zilphia Vardaman
was the second wife of John McLean McPhail. They were
married at the residence of the bride's father, E. L.
Vardaman. Zilphia was named for one of her aunts, Zilphia
Vining who first married Joseph Tomme and, after his death,
Anthony Holloway. Zilphia had no children of her own but
raised John McPhail's 2 sons from his first marriage;
(standing - left
Vardaman born November 14, 1843 in Meriwether, GA, never
married and died March 25, 1923. She is buried at the Rock
Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Clay County, Alabama.
Annie Lovedia Vardaman born October 25, 1945 in Merriwether, GA and died August 31, 1922 and is buried at Rock Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Clay County, Alabama. (Note) Jack's Vardaman's note has Annie Lovedia married to Benjamin Franklin Luker on February 29, 1873. I need to ask Jack about that.)
Other artifacts displayed in the treasure chest are:
=A watch winding key of Edwy L. Vardaman, John's father who was
born in 1804.
=A cap box bullet from Appomattox
=A notary public seal plate of John F. Vardaman's and the document proclaiming him notary public, stamped March 1878, and signed by Governor R. K. Boyd
+The leather folder which John F. Vardaman brought back from the war
+An ornate, polished wooden walking cane that belonged to John F. Vardaman
and many other artifacts.
John, The part about Mieldah's letter would be great to go in the Israel Thomas and Mieldah Vardaman Kilpatrick Genealogy! Think? Wanda Lou
Analysis of Document 102 by James B. Gwin
This is a batch of photographs of Mrs. Ada Vardaman and her children. Tin type and another very old paper photo was taken when she was a girl in Coosa County, Ala. Others were taken of her when she was a young lady and after she married, old gfe, etc.
Ada was the daughter of John Forsythe Vardaman and Julia Flynn Vardaman, and she was born and raised in Coosa County, Ala. Buried in Smyrna Churchyard, Coosa County, Alabama.
Ada Vardaman Ada & Maggie 1944 Mrs. James Bassett Gwin, Jr.
Adrian ("Ada") Vardaman Gwin, daughter of John F. Vardaman and Julia Ann Flynn Vardaman. Their other children were Marshall Everett, John William Anderson, and Maggie Mae Vardaman who married Thomas Jefferson Webb. Of Kellyton, and Ada Bell (Adrian) who married James Bassett Gwin, formerly of Shelby County, Alabama. Their son James Bassett Gwin, Jr., was the benefactor for the Vardaman collection of historical artifacts at the Old Rock Jail Museum in Rockford, Alabama.
I will stop here. But these pictures just grabbed me in a strange and wonderful way. I felt as though these ancestors were with me!
I will send more - if you like - if you don't, I will send anyway! HO Hum!
Look who's talkin'
Leo's are showoffs - God loves me, too!