This is a contribution from Jan Dunham

Here's one of the stories from the Henry Evan Spiva family
(son of Francis Spiva & his wife Mary Jane Hall) ... this was a photocopy of a letter that
was passed on to us. Jan E. Dunham
Friant, California. Box 11 June 17, 1941
Mrs. O.B. Linnevold and family:
Dear darlin loved ones. I am going to try and answer your sweet letter.
Bless your heart I can't answer the questions to do any good, as I never
heard what was my grandfathers' given name was on my mother's side. (Charles
Perry Polk).
My father never served in the war. Only one of my uncles did. His name
was Bronson Jones. My grandfather on my father's side served in the old war
when the Whigs and Tories carried the day. I don't know anyone that could
tell you my grandfather Polk's name.
No, Grandfather Spiva never fought in the Civil War. His parents were
Jonah Spivey. They came from Mississippi to Missouri, then to Arkansas in
early days. All my people are dead that I could ask about.
First, what kind of wedding dress? It was white organdy, made long. I
guess it was a home wedding. We were married at home at 11 o'clock, and
went to church afterwards returned home. Dinner was served at 4 pm. with
about 40 present. The rest of the evening was spent in games and songs.
Your grandfather was dressed in a black Prince Albert suit.
The second day we rode 45 miles to his home were we were met by 20
friends and served our infair dinner (much on the same style as the one
served at my home. (Traveled by horseback). I and this man lived together
16 months, and he died. Two years later I married the man your mother knew
as father. This was a private wedding. I was dressed in brown satin. Four
months later I started on my honeymoon to West Texas, where we had to go 175
miles to get our mail and grub, and nothing to protect us from storm and
cold but the North Star.
Our first stay was Andrews County; the second was Midland Co. Here I got
my mail for about 15 years.
Our ranches consisted of 4000 and 5000 acres, stocked with cattle,
horses, sheep and goats. It was free range. We leased, but did not fence
for a long time.
We were of not particular religion. I was raised a Baptist.
You asked of the dress of the men - cowboys - they wore big hats, loud
shirts, high heeled boots, Levi pants and chaps, and OK spurs. They had a
magney or lariat and had a quirt. These were the only weapons the cowman
Next the round-up wagon started in the spring and continued until
everything froze up. There was no fencing in those days. Which ever way
your face was it was open to you all. Water that was fit for service had to
be pumped from wells by windmills into tanks for use.
The prevailing song was "Go home, little dogies" and "Bury me not on the
lone prairie".
Next, my folks were from Florida. I was born at Tampa in 1868 (May 24).
My father went as a Baptist minister to Louisiana. There my mother died,
and my grandparents took, me to raise. So all my folks came to Louisiana and
stayed one year. Then crawled into their Prairie Schooner and hit the road
for Texas.
We settled in east Texas where I was raised. My post office was Hemphill,
Sabine County, Texas. My name was Sarah Elizabeth, but was always called
You ask of my relations to President James K. Polk. He was my ... uncle.
My mother's name was Lizey Ann, or I think Eliza Ann Polk.
Your grandmother Spiva's name was Mary Jane Hall. She was a niece to
President McKinley*. She lived and died in Arkansas.
Some lullaby songs were "Froggy went courting my cat went Fiddleofee" and
some folks say "John the Baptist was nothing but a Jew."
*we had visits - picnics, eta. with some McKinleys when I was small before
mother died.
Sarah and Matilda left old south to go to Texas with their paternal
Grandmother and husband (Jones), after they'd sold their Florida plantation
(after freeing of slaves). En route to Texas a colored maid absconded with a
pick-up Negro man and the plantation cash. The family continued to Texas
(eastern part/Sabine County) where the family settled and children grew up.
Their post office was Hemphill. Grandmother aided by work as a midwife
(rode a mule), Grandfather did cabinet work, and probably owned a farm.
Girls grew up well, knew how to work, clean (scrubbed chairs & floors with
sand for cleanser & polish), knit, sew, cook, chores. Sarah hadn't kissed
Albert until married, "You'd got tell and I'd get the name of being common."
Sarah was 5+ years when Ann Eliza, their mother, died from dropsey
(Bright's disease). She was Ann Eliza Polk Vesey, daughter of Charles Perry
Polk, granddaughter of Ezekiel Polk,(father of Charles Perry and Samuel
Polk, Samuel Polk was the father of James Knox Polk...President of US).
Sarah remembered her mother well, the facts and >>>>> of their move. She
remembered parents well and visited her father Vesey in Texas about 1912
(?). (Willa Mae Spiva was a nursing baby with her). Father, M. L. Vesey
introduced Sarah & Matilda to friends as his daughters. I think the father
Vesey was a captain, living in Brownsville, Texas. But that detail I cannot
swear to. My Grandmother refereed to her father as Vesey when she talked of
their visit.
The girls had little formal education but pursued education and learning
on their own. The girls were Baptist in church membership, but Sarah
married A. Seastruck, a Methodist and affiliated with that church.
Sarah, Grandmother, and Albert Seastruck had 1 child, Miriam A. (Ann?)
Seastruck. Albert died, age 22, of pneumonia. They were farming. He knew
he was dying, "now Tenderfliat (his name for her) watch me died like a man."
Sarah worked at a hotel kitchen to support herself and baby. Baby Miriam
was quite ill with diarrhea and Sarah (about 90 lbs for years) held baby on
lap in suna to try to help heal her. After 2 years Sarah married William
Ramsey, a rancher. They moved to his ranch place in Andrews county, 175
miles from Post Office at first. Later they moved to Odessa, Texas in
Midland County. Two sons were born, LeGrande, who died from diabetes in his
teens - and Parker B. Ramsey (died 1971). Sarah and William had 5000 - 5000
acres (leased) for cattle, horses, sheep, goats. This land was unfenced.
Some land may have been their land. Parker married Jessie Duncan. He was
never friendly wit Spivas, but would come to mother if she was in ill health
and for her funeral. There probably was hostility after Sarah married Henry
Evan Spiva, late 1890's. The Ramsey estate went. There may have been
personality clashes. Ramsey provided well for his family. He died mid
1890's by reason of saddle girth slipping while fording a swollen river. He
drowned. The accompanying two cowmen came to tell Sarah - she knew the
message when she saw them coming.
Sarah married Henry Evan Spiva in late 1890's thinking that he could help
manage the Ramsey estate. He had no talents in that line. They had 5
children - Thelma, Horace, Homer, Opal, Willa Mae. Hoarace died Oct 75 and
Opal died from diptheria as a child, about 1909.
There were said to be some relatives in Phoenix, Arizona (perhaps
Crandell/Crawford?) names & connection unknown to me.

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