Tuesday, June 19, 2007

VA Excursion: Day 3

Another full day, and now I'm kicking back and relaxing at a Super 8 Motel just east of Memphis, Tennessee.

I started off the day with a drive from Fayetteville, AR to Siloam Springs. Once again, a beautiful drive, especially since it clipped through part of the Ozark Nationional Forest. (No point in trying to get photos: you literally can't see the forest for the trees.) Passing through the outskirts of Siloam Springs, I continued on to Gentry and found the old Bloomfield Cemetery. Based upon various signage, I've concluded that Bloomfield was an old Mennonite community, but all that is left now is a church and scattered houses. At the Bloomfield Cemetery, as I had expected, I found the graves of my great-great grandfather, Lewis Sion Glenn, his second wife, Amanda, his son John M., grandaughter Norma Jean, and daughter Una May Moore.

Next, I continued on to Bentonville. Despite the controversies over Wal-Mart's medieval labor practices and negative impact on locally-owned businesses, there is no denying that being the headquarters of Wal-Mart has benefitted Bentonville. This small city is bustling and growing like mad, with suburban housing developments and clusters of hotels and big box stores normally only found in towns at least twice as large (or nearer major population centers). This buzz of economic activity is a far cry from the economic stagnation that I saw back in Scott county the previous day, where I had overheard a couple of locals talking about how Wal-Mart had put most of the mom and pop stores in the area out of business.

Anyway, I headed to Compton Gardens, a botanical attraction located in a draw just a few blocks north of the Benton County courthouse, where the net had told me I would locate the Benton County Genealogical Society Library. Upon arrival, I was struck by the beauty of the place, and felt it had to be the coolest place possible for doing research. Sadly, when I got to the door, I found a sign indicating that the Society Library had moved to the public library. Oh well...

The Bentonville Public Library is a newish structure, built with funds donated by Wal-Mart. I found the genealogical reading room within, but found the pickings a bit poor. I couldn't find my Glenn ancestors on the county death index, nor any mention of them in any history books about the area. I did, however, find mention in a collection of stories about Siloam Springs of what I believe to be a related Glenn family, who, like Lewis, lived in Flint Creek Valley. However, the article in question kept making references to Deleware County, which is just across the border in Oklahoma. My nagging suspicions that Lewis lived in Oklahoma were reinforced. Next, I headed back over to the courthouse to see if I could find him in the probate indices. No luck. If I am to find out anything more about him, I'll have to search in Colcord, the county seat of Deleware County, OK. But that would have to wait for another day. For now, I needed to make tracks to the other side of the state of Arkansas.

I headed in the direction of Little Rock, with a side excursion to the north of Clarksville, in Johnson County, where my Martin ancestors first settled in Arkansas upon arriving from Tennessee sometime in the late 1830's. I had found mention of Solomon Perry Martin having been buried at Red Lick Mountain in Mt. Vernon Cemetery, not far from his home at Martin Spring. (I've found nothing definitive on the subject, but it is my assumption that Martin Spring was named for our family.) Sol, who served in the Union Army during the Civil War, was killed by bushwackers during a visit home to check on his family. Stories passed down through the generations indicate that he was killed at a place in Spadra Dry Creek Hollow called Blood Rock, located about 5 or 6 miles northwest of Martin Springs. I would love to get a photo of that site as well, but, unfortunately, I've never been able to obtain directions more definitive than that, and I fear that all who once knew where it is are long dead.

I had no trouble finding the cemetery, although it is a mystery to me why a cemetery (and community) would be named Mt. Vernon, when the geographical feature it sits upon is called Red Lick Mountain. (The cemetery is just over the peak, on the other side of the Mountain from Martin Springsand the bulk of the Mt. Vernon community.) There, I not only found Sol's marker (no dates, only the unit in which he served), but also the headstones of many other Martins, my kin. There were also quite a few Bean graves, who are linked to the Martins by marriage.

Knowing the property description of Sol's land from a federal land grant, and having located it on a General Land Office platt map drawn when Arkansas first became a state, I had come up with a rough guess as to where it is located physically, by comparing the platt map with modern ones. Unfortunately, landforms have changed, and rivers have been diverted. There is even now a man-made lake at the foot of Red Lick Mountain. In any case, I knew my guess was crude. At a crossroads at what I though must be Martin Spring, I flagged down a local to ask. He grinned, looked around, waved his hand about and indicated that where we were was pretty much it. He pointed to a field nearby that to this day is owned by Martins, and to a house next to us that he said was built on the site of where the old Martin homestead once stood, but had since burned down. I thanked him and snapped a few photos, then hit the road again.

Martin Spring as it is today: a church, a crossroads, and...

...a house built where the old Martin homestead once stood.

A Martin-owned field, part of Solomon P. Martin's original land grant.

Looking west across Ludwig Lake, a manmade reservoir at the foot of Red Lick Mountain.

A view of Red Lick Mountain looking NNE from the SSE side of Ludwig Lake.

As I neared Little Rock, the landscape continued to be dominated by wooded hills and mountains which diminished in size the further I progressed. Past Little Rock along the way to Memphis, the mountains were pretty much gone, replaced by scattered rolling hills and the flat (and sometimes swampy) flood plains of the Mississippi. It was well after dark once I crossed the Big Muddy. I would have loved to have snapped a photo of the night-time Memphis skyline shining over the waters of the Mississippi, but driving conditions at the time were far too dangerous to permit that. Let us just say that there are FAR too many semis on I-40 between Little Rock and Memphis.

And so, another day of exploration is concluded. I had planned to go to Fayetteville to research the Isoms tomorrow, but tonight I realized that the Lincoln County Genealogical Society library is only open on weekends. I'll have to do that on the return trip. Instead, I'll be continuing on tomorrow to Nashville to visit the Tennessee State Library & Archives to examine the Rhea family papers. I had previously examined microfilm images of them thanks to the Interlibrary Loan progam, but most of the images were of far too poor quality to read. Now I can examine the originals in search of clues about one of my more mysterious ancestors, Matthew "the Rebel" Campbell, who fled Scotland after fighting on the loosing side of the Monmouth Rebellion and changed his last name to something that would eventually evolve into Rhea. (My ggg-grandfather James Isom/Isham was married to Altamira Rhea, one of Matthew's descendants.)

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