Last week I filled you in on the story of the YOCHUM family. While researching last week’s post I came across a little nugget of a story that I wanted to flesh out and bring to you this week. The theme this week is ‘lost’ and we’ll be talking about little Roney LITTRELL, a cousin-by-marriage to Nancy BEAR (the sister of Eliza Jane BEAR to whom we are genetically related according to my DNA). Dad’s family does have a Littrell line so it may be that in the future I discover we are blood related to this little boy in some way. In any case, it fit the theme and I found it interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a lot of information so this post will have two halves- Roney LITTRELL who was lost around age 6 and another of my Dad’s lines, the CHAMBERS line which also had a boy that got lost. So grab your kleenex box and let’s get started.
Roney Littrell – A Life Barely Started
Roney LITTRELL was born about 1808 in Lincoln County, Tennessee. Lincoln County is about an hour to hour and a half south of Nashville, Tennessee to give you some idea of geography. His parents were Jesse and Frances (SHELTON) LITTRELL. DNA says we are connected to Roney but, of course, it doesn’t say how and I have yet to figure that out. We have both BEARs and LITTRELLs in my Dad’s line and both of these lines, along with YOCHUMs, intermarried. When Roney was about 6 years old, he and his dad went out with a group of people to hunt Sweet Gum trees. Sweet Gums are hardwood trees native to Tennessee and are considered ornamental in some areas of the US. I found a wonderful blog that laid out exactly what Sweet Gums can be used for. Thriving Earth Farm and Development says that for humans (as opposed to animals for which Sweet Gums are also food), parts of the Sweet Gum tree are used medicinally. Hobby Farms has a short article about medicinal uses. Sweet Gums can also be used for making baskets, for firewood if they are dried well, and for building material (including “high quality millwork” in houses). Some have even talked about using the wood to make their own lures at Tackle Underground. Any gardeners in the house? If so, check out FutureFarming’s website. They give a list of things you can do with Sweet Gum in the garden. A blog that I love, Eat the Weeds, says the dried sap of the tree is the only edible part of the tree but it does make a fragrant, bitter chewing gum. The sap is also used to add flavor to smoking tobacco. Any other edible uses are in the form of medicine which Eat the Weeds does talk about in the linked blog post. If you’re interested in making medicine be sure to read comments on the linked Eat the Weeds blog post as there are a variety of ways to make the medicine. When Sweet Gum is discussed for it’s medicinal properties, the brand name Tamiflu has been mentioned so if you have a Sweet Gum tree you may want to check that out. You can go to your pharmacy and get Sweet Gum in the form of “Compound Tincture of Benzoin”. If you feel more comfortable with a scientific study on the medicinal properties of Sweet Gum, you can check out the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health study. By the way, do you want to know how to make the gum? I got you covered! Go to BushcraftUSA‘s website and start reading!
Now back to Roney and his dad. I can’t say for sure why Roney and Jesse were hunting Sweet Gum that day. It could have been any of the reasons listed above. In any case, there they were with this group. I don’t have details about how it all went down but this is how I imagine it. Roney grouped up with the other kids his age, as kids often do. At some point, Roney separated from the group. When Jesse went to find him or to check on him, he was gone. I can only imagine the aftermath. If Roney’s mom (they called her Frankey) wasn’t with the group then Jesse had to go home – without Roney – and tell her what happened. My heart breaks for both of them. The story goes that Jesse hunted for Roney for two years after that, wandering in and out of Indian encampments looking for his son. I can only imagine the aftermath of that group trip. I cannot find any information that indicates Jesse and Frankey ever found Roney.
Alexander John Chambers- In His Heart, A Sea Captain
Relying on the research of others (specifically that research done by William Davis CHAMBERS and posted at Chambers History: Trails of the Centuries website), I offer you the following stories. Alexander CHAMBERS was born in 1749 in Ireland to Samuel and Mary (THOMPSON) CHAMBERS. They were from a Scots-Irish family. When Alexander was 15 years old, his family made the voyage to America, settling in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. Alexander loved the sea. So much so that when the family arrived, Samuel and Mary indentured Alexander to a man 80 miles inland to keep Alexander from becoming a sailor. The family arrived in 1765. At that time, Philadelphia was suffering from a Smallpox epidemic that had broken out the previous year and lasted into 1766. According to Revolutionary War Journal‘s website, in 1765 Philadelphia suffered epidemic outbreaks of Smallpox (from 1764-1766), Scarlet Fever and Smallpox in 1769, and Influenza from 1770-1771. They had some difficult years leading up to the Revolution. You can see previous and subsequent epidemic outbreaks on that website. It’s very interesting. Our Covid-19 crisis seems to have been their “normal” from about 1763-1783. It was about halfway through this Philadelphian pandemic period (about 1771) that Alexander became an adult. He left his indenture status and returned to Philadelphia to be with his parents. In 1771, Philadelphia was suffering back-to-back epidemics of Influenza and Whooping Cough. During these back-to-back epidemics, many people left Philadelphia in an effort to save themselves and their families. When Alexander arrived in Philadelphia to be with his parents he could not find them. They had left while he was indentured. William Davis CHAMBERS received a letter from a family member who indicated that Alexander’s parents left because of the epidemics. According to his grandson, Alexander made an initial search for his parents but didn’t find them. He searched the rest of his life for his parents and never found them. Alexander eventually moved to Kentucky and then Indiana. Throughout his life he continued the search for his parents and his grandson remembers his dad (Alexander’s son) making two long trips with Alexander in search of Alexander’s parents. I can only assume that they also looked for him and never found him.
Wandering the Woods and the City Streets
I’d love more time to research and write about these families but I’ve run out of time for this week’s blog post. I think my ancestors would understand if they knew that I have living people to care for this week and an old friend to mourn who passed away this week – far too soon in his life. The stories will wait. The living people I love need to be loved and cared for now, not later. Maybe next week we’ll have a longer story time, but this week we’re going to leave these lost boys where they are – wandering the woods and the city streets trying to find their way back. There are many in the world today who are lost. Pray for them. Squeeze your loved ones tight and don’t take your eyes off your littles. Life is too short and too precious.
Wishing you love, safety, and a life of never being lost.
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives genealogy blog