Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Wye?

As I was getting ready to leave Springfield Wednesday morning (September 9th) I discussed my travel plans with my hosts. My intention at that time was to head north to Lawrence, Kansas to see what I could find on Samuel Fisher, the brother of my 2nd Great Grandmother, Louisa Fisher Phend.

However, I made a stop to purchase a few things before leaving and “something” jogged my memory – a small town in Arkansas was calling my name.

In 1985, I corresponded with Arba Phend Showalter, a daughter of Marion Ora Phend and granddaughter of Christian Phend. Her uncle, Clarence D. Phend was the fellow who wrote the early version of the history of the Phend Family.

Though undocumented and rife with errors, his version of the family history nevertheless provided invaluable information and clues for further research. I will forever be grateful to Clarence for putting it all in writing and to Arba for sending me a copy of it!

Clarence was first married on May 18, 1901 in Elkhart County, Indiana to Myrtle Clyde. It is not known whether Myrtle was deceased or if they were divorced, but, according to Arba, Clarence was married a second time to Lora West on September 22, 1908.

I haven't found Clarence in the 1910 Federal Census but in 1920 he was a 43 year old preacher living in River Town, Mayes County, Oklahoma along with his wife, Lora. She was also 43 years old and a school teacher. In the 1930 census, Clarence and Lora were found in Wye, Perry County, Arkansas. His occupation was given as farmer and she was a public school teacher. In both 1920 and 1930, he was listed as having been born in Indiana and she in Missouri.

It seems that Clarence may have been an itinerant preacher for a time. In an article found online in 2001 (the url is no longer valid) about the Branson, Missouri Presbyterian Church by Townsend Godsey in the White River Valley Historical Quarterly (v 9, Winter 1987) there was this brief sentence “... Revivalists, identified by the Branson Echo as Reverends Ross and Phend, began asking for subscriptions to build a church...”

Of her uncle Clarence, Arba wrote “My information is that his second wife's name was Lola Gray. I wrote to Alice Selby, pastor of the Wye and Bigelow, Arkansas United Methodist church in 1981. She wrote that the church records show that Clarence and Lora Gray Phend became members of the Wye United Brethren Church on August 22, 1943. Lora taught school in the community and Clarence did some preaching. I quote 'They lived in a little cabin about 6 miles south of Bigelow, Arkansas on Highway 113' and 'Lora was raised in Graysville, Missouri and I know that in early days, Rev. Phend was the pastor of a U. B. Church in northern Missouri which may be where he met Lora.' Clarence died on either the 11th or 22nd of March 1945. Lora died November 30, 1951 and both are buried in the Wye, Arkansas cemetery. My mother's information is that Clarence died on the 11th of March 1945 but Alice Selby writes it was March 22nd 1943 which can't be right.”

So it was to find Clarence's burial place that I headed south from Springfield instead of going north. Though I knew “about” where it was, I couldn't find the town of Wye on the road atlas that I had and, luckily, as I entered Arkansas on US Rte 65 there was a welcome center. The nice man gave me a more detailed map and even helped me find Wye, which is about 30 miles northwest of Little Rock.

Even though it was raining and overcast, I opted to get off the main highway and take Scenic Route 7 from Harrison. Route 7 winds and wends its way through the hills and valleys - it wasn't quite so scenic as it would have been on a nice sunny day, but it was still quite pretty. And it didn't rain the whole way. After turning off onto several other back-country roads and traversing their ups and downs, I eventually found myself in the small community of Wye. You can't really call it a town since there are no open stores but there are some houses. And a church. And some vacant buildings.

The half-mile road back to the cemetery is really a one lane gravel path, barely wide enough for one vehicle, with trees bordering both sides of the lane. And it was raining, again. Pouring down. But as I arrived at the cemetery, it let up some and after a few minutes slowed to a drizzle. It was about 4 o'clock. Trees surrounded the cemetery and their darkness contributed to the gloomy day.

Wye Cemetery covers a fairly large area but there aren't that many stones there. It only took half an hour or so to walk the entire cemetery. Clarence and Lora were alongside the front of a fenced in area and I had somehow overlooked them on the first pass through from front to back.

It surprised me that they were buried next to the Rev. Alice Selby. The very same Alice Selby who had provided Arba Showalter with information about Clarence!

Clarence D. Phend, son of Christian and Mary (McConnell) Phend, was born September 18, 1876 in Kosciusko County, Indiana and passed away on March 11, 1945 in Bigelow, Perry County, Arkansas. Lora (West) Phend was born about 1877 and died November 30, 1951. They are buried in Wye Cemetery, Pulaski County, Arkansas.

Note: The 1930 census shows Wye Township in Perry County, Arkansas. The GNIS database and Find-a-Grave both show that it is in Pulaski County. I haven't yet found when the change was made.


Ken Spangler said...

Glad to hear from you Becky! It's good to hear that your road trip is going well. How fun it must be to be able to do what you are doing. Good luck in your travels and much success in all that you do!

Randy said...

It appears that Wye Township is in Perry County while the community of Wye is on the county line with Pulaski County's Big Rock Township being just below the line.
Does this help?


T.K. said...

Hi Becky,
Just spent an hour or so catching up with your blog. So happy to hear you're off on a travel adventure, and I hope to see you when you make it to Michigan. You're welcome to stay at my place if Mt. Clemens is a good spot for you, and I'm also hoping to go to St. Joe sometime to visit with Jasia and Cheryl, so maybe we'll end up with a little geneablogger party there. Enjoy your adventures!

Apple said...

I'm glad your change in plans bore fruit. We didn't venture as far south into Arkansas as you did but the Ozarks were very pretty.

Is it significant that all of the letters on the Phend stone are uppercase except the n?

Becky said...

Ken - thank you, and good luck to you on your move back to Texas!

Randy - thanks, it just gets confusing when a town lies on the border between two counties.

T.K. - I'd love to meet up with you, Cheryl, and Jasia but I have no idea if or when I'll get to Michigan! But if I do get up that way, I'll let y'all know!

Apple - I don't know if there is any significance to the lowercase "n" in Phend or Clarence. I thought it odd when I saw it and wondered about it too.