Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kitchen stories: Capt Clinton Truesdell

Not all stories heard were funny; some just odd. This was a story not heard as a child so at least sometimes the family was descrete. I was reminded of this part of the family history when my sister and I were investigating the family cemetery in New Albany a few years ago.

Our maternal Grandmother, Emily's family farm was in the southern part of Indiana, New Albany just across the Ohio river from Louisville, Kentucky, and was given to them by her Grandfather, Clinton DeWitt Truesdell, born 1827 in Galla, Ohio. He was a riverboat captain on the Mississippi. Grandma always said St. Louis but some other data says St. Paul; either way he moved commerce on the mighty river.

James Morgan Truesdell, born 1864 in Lawrence, Ohio, was her father. As a young boy he took to the Mississippi as a cabin boy aboard the riverboat, Marrietta out of St Paul. The captain of this boat was Clinton DeWitt Truesdell, his father. I'm not sure how old he was, but James fell in love with a woman and had a child. When he informed his father he was told they couldn't marry. Seems Capt Clinton had an extra marital relationship and this woman was his half-sister. James left the woman and the son and later met and married Susan Cora Very from New Albany, Indiana. These were Grandma Emily's parents.

Clinton gave them the land for their farm and it was there grandmother, Emily Pricilla, January 1, 1906, the seventh of fifteen children was born. Captain Clinton left the river and lived with them on the farm and eventually died there.

Emily's maternal grandparents, Martin and Mary Jane Very, also had a farm in New Albany and it's on that land we found Slate Run, the family cemetery. Grandma spoke fondly of that farm and of the Very grandparents. Martin Very was a kind man. He built a Methodist Church and would let poor families bury they relatives in the cemetery resulting in a number of headstones with no family ties.

Grandma spoke little of her childhood. With all those kids the farming family was extremely poor and her father, by many accounts, was quite lazy. Grandma Susie, on the other hand, was energetic and when she'd say, "I'm gonna take papa his lunch out in the barn," the older kids knew there'd be a new sibling soon.

She did tell of the Spring House, a little house built over the stream used to keep the milk cool and though the children were not allowed in, in the heat of the summer, they'd often sneak down and have a taste of the cool milk. She said knowing it was forbidden made it all that much sweeter.

When she did talk of her time in New Albany it was to relate how very poor they were. All the children needed to work to help support the huge family. I did get the impression she didn't have a happy childhood. She lived through the Influenza 1918 outbreak but lost a good friend. Lifes day-to-day struggle touched her personally when she was nine and came down with the chicken pox. After contracting them her two-year-old brother Cecil Albert died. She always said it was because of her. Sad to think she carried that burden her whole life.

Everyone worked on the farm, even the younger children and when Emily was ten she worked all summer on a neighbor's farm to have money for a warm winter coat. When time came to be paid her mother took the money and she was given a hand-me-down. You can see why she left the farm as soon as she could. The only way for a young, uneducated woman to get away was to marry and when Thomas Perry Colvin, ten years her senior, came by she was more than happy to become his wife. They married in La Grange, Kentucky February 4, 1922; Emily turned 16 the month before. My mother was born in December of that year.


  1. oh no he di'int! did the son have like three arms or something?

  2. Anonymous9:45 PM

    Thanks for the story of your family history.... do more of these - I love 'em.

  3. odd she says................freakin weird family we come from. there should be a book here somewhere.

  4. Anonymous7:23 PM

    A "Slice of Life" that I've taken the liberty to add to the family genealogy. Thanks very much.
    Paul E. Truesdell, Jr. (A cousin).