Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

© 2006-2018 All rights reserved

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Here There Be Spooks

It's the time of year when folks start thinking about ghosts and witches and such. Now, I've never seen a ghost, but I've gotten pictures of orbs before, and others have taken pictures of orbs on parts of some property I own—like this one from Polecat Creek Farm:

Photo by Robin Bevins
When I went on the historical society's ghost tour back in 2007, I found some orbs on the photos I uploaded to my computer. You can see them in "Another Interesting Day" blog-post. I've gotten orbs in my neighborhood, too, like the ones in "Seizing the Moment" blog-post and "Evening Walk Alone."

Supposedly witches lived in Franklin County back in the day. The settlers' map of the county even notes where a reputed which was located:

Whether the witch was Juggs Burton or someone else isn't clear. However, there's a well known story about two witches who once lived in the county: Duck and Montague Moore.

Raymond Sloan, a local historian of days gone by interviewed someone in the 1930s about these two Franklin County witches. His tale is included in Virginia Folk Legends, edited  by Thomas E. Barden, Published by University of Virginia Press, 1991. Here are the pages as they appear in Google Books:

An easier-to read-version appears on Dave Tabler's Appalachian History blog. I'm not sure when these two witches were around, but it must have been over a century ago. They're long gone now.

It wouldn't be Halloween if I didn't repost "Samhain, Shut-Ins, and the Resurrection" from 2006. It's not often that you see a critter spring back to life.

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Desolate Places

October is a month of desolation, when we're aware—despite clear blue skies and bright colors—that the year is dying. Leaves fall; winds blow; the days grow shorter. Robert Frost captures the desolation in this poem:

Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

On a few recent October mornings, I've noticed some of the desolation near me. Just down the road is what was once the old Wright farm, that was clear-cut a few years ago and then sprayed with herbicide. Remnants of the house, desolate and decaying, remain.

The barn, or what's left of it, is still there, too.

The long-dead Wrights still lie in their desolate, untended graves. I blogged about them in "What Was Once."

Several miles from this farm, on Brooks Mill Road, is an old building surrounded by woods. I'm not sure what it used to be, but I'm guessing a church. But it's pretty much abandoned—desolate in these October woods.

On the Sutherland planation, the skies show October's bright blue weather but the buildings are desolate and falling down.

This cabin, which once was the home of Civil War veteran William M. Sutherland, hasn't been lived in for nearly a century. October is coming to an end. The wild earth will go its way.

October seems to inspire poetry. Here's another October poem.

A Calendar of Sonnets
Helen Hunt Jackson

The month of carnival of all the year, 
When Nature lets the wild earth go its way, 
And spend whole seasons on a single day. 
The spring-time holds her white and purple dear; 
October, lavish, flaunts them far and near; 
The summer charily her reds doth lay 
Like jewels on her costliest array; 
October, scornful, burns them on a bier. 
The winter hoards his pearls of frost in sign 
Of kingdom: whiter pearls than winter knew, 
Oar empress wore, in Egypt's ancient line, 
October, feasting 'neath her dome of blue, 
Drinks at a single draught, slow filtered through 
Sunshiny air, as in a tingling wine! 

October is coming to an end. The wild earth will go its way.

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Margie Odell Caldwell Ruble

Correcting Genealogical Errors

From doing online genealogical research on my family, I've learned that there are lots of errors and stumbling blocks. One of them involves the name of my great-grandmother on my Ruble side.  I've blogged about her before— on "The Ruble Connection" on my Naces of  Lithia blog and I've blogged about her on this blog back in 2014: "Tangled Ruble Roots." Thus, some of the info in this post might be a bit redundant, but I'd like to get the word out on what her real name was.

 My great-grandmother's full name is Margie Odell Caldwell Ruble, but a lot of sites—as well as several trees on—mistake her for her older sister Maggie. Or they think her name is Margaret or Marga or Margie Logan. Or they get her birthdate confused with Maggie's.

This picture of Margie and her husband George William Ruble was taken before 1935, because that's the year he died.

I know the picture was taken at their son Howard Ruble's house on Watts Avenue in Roanoke because the background still looked like that in the 1950s when I was a kid. I also remember hearing my grandmother Blanche Nace Ruble refer to her mother-in-law as Margie. 

I think a lot of problems with her correct name might have started when someone got it wrong and a lot of others copied the error. When doing genealogy, it's best to work with primary sources rather than heresay.

My Aunt Leona—Margie's daughter—wrote this note for me when I was a child so I would know who my family was. Aunt Leona was off a digit in her grandfather's birthdate, but the names of his children look correct. Also, I'm not sure about Caroline Surber—I think she was an aunt rather than a grandmother—but, according to census records, she lived near Marcellus's father Henry Surber.

Notice that Maggie L. Caldwell—Margie's older sister—was born on May 9, 1859, before her father—Alexander Gibson Caldwell—went to war. Margie O. Caldwell and her twin sister Montra were born on February 25, 1866, after the war was over. (Note: To add to the confusion, on her Find-a-Grave site, Montre's name is spelled Mauntra and her birthdate is a year off.)

The Ruble family bible is another primary source. According to this page from it, George William Ruble was born on June 17, 1861, and his wife Margie Odell Ruble was born February 25, 1866. A note at the bottom says they were married October 14, 1884.

Another piece of evidence is this 1920 census where Margie O. (age 53) is the wife of Geo William Ruble (age 58). Their sons Kenneth, Bertranse, Stewart, and Eugene are still at home:

Their tombstone is hard to read, but you can see the name is Margie. It's not Margaret.

Margie's death certificate clearly identifies her as Margie Odell Ruble.

Her husband's death certificate identifies her as Margie Caldwell Ruble.

So, from looking at some good primary sources, we know that her name was Margie—not Maggie, not Margaret.

Perhaps this blog-post will help folks who are researching the wife of George William Ruble learn that her real name was Margie Odell Caldwell Ruble.

UPDATE: Thanks to, I was able to find out what happened to Margaret/Maggie Logan Caldwell. On June 21, 1888, she married E.D. Broughman in Alleghany, Virginia (FHL Film number 30523, Reference ID  p37L28). She was a widow when she died on March 31, 1926, at Little Sisters of the Poor, 16 N. Harvie Street in Richmond. Her death certificate notes that she was formerly of Clifton Forge, Virginia, but had been in Richmond four years.

Her parents are listed as "Alex Calwell" and "Marcella Serbert," which is close to Alex Caldwell and Marcellus Surber, but both are listed as being born in "England" instead of Virginia. Was she trying to hide something? And why was she in Richmond? If she were living with a child, wouldn't that child have given information for the death certificate instead of Sister Catherine? Perhaps she had no children, and thus ended up in a home for the "elderly poor."

Little Sisters of the Poor
(now Warsaw Condominiums)
Some things still remain a mystery.

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