Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Pruett Family!

What a year it has been! 2013 was normal for us in that it was full of life changing events.  Our family moved from Okmulgee back to our hometown of Ponca City where Zachary opened his computer repair business! It is a blessing to be closer to our parents, siblings, and other relatives. We love family time!

We felt early in the year that the Lord was drawing us back to Ponca City with a move likely in the summer, but we had no idea how this would be possible.  We prayed and talked for countless hours about the possibilities, but it was July before we knew it was actually going to happen!  We moved into our new home in Ponca City on August 2, and what a testimony of God’s provision it has been.  Zachary J. Pruett Computers is a dream come true. Zachary enjoys working with computers and thrives on the problem-solving involved. Customer service is definitely his niche. He loves helping people.

We believe in steady, sustainable growth, so, with the Lord’s help, Zachary has been creative and worked long hours to make sure all our needs are met during this start up time.  He was quickly hired at Ponca City’s JC Penney and was promoted to a supervisor’s position only three months later.

Elizabeth continues to work at home and care for precious little Anna Christine, who is now 20 months old and very much an adorable and active toddler.  Anna celebrated her 1st Birthday in April by taking her first unassisted steps and can now run and climb and reach with enthusiasm. She loves music and “sings” along with Daddy and Momma. Her vocabulary is growing quickly, and she is getting better about repeating words back to us. She is full of joy, and it is definitely contagious!

Anna is fascinated by babies.  She loves her doll and points out babies both in public and in pictures and movies.  The timing is perfect since she will have her own baby sibling to love on next summer.

We found a church home at Longwood Baptist Church in the beautiful countryside just outside Ponca City, and we feel blessed in our new church family as we grow in our relationships with them and worship our Lord together. Their sweet and welcoming spirits make us feel right at home.

Some of the highlights of our year included visiting Grandma and Grandpa Koskey in New Mexico, seeing the Grand Canyon, Saguaro National Park, and Elizabeth’s Grand Uncle Tom and Aunt Nancy in Arizona, Zachary becoming A+ce Certified, Grandpa Moore’s 80th Birthday Party, Elizabeth joining the General and Oklahoma Societies of Mayflower Descendants, and our finding out that a little one is on its way! Please be in prayer for a healthy pregnancy and delivery and that Zachary’s work would be blessed.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our home to yours. Much love,

Zachary, Elizabeth, and Anna Pruett

Zachary's Email:
Elizabeth's Email:

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Take on "What is Sin?" and Phil Robertson

“What do you find sinful?”

That seems to be the question of the week with A&E’s decision to indefinitely suspend Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson from their network for answering this very question.  The country was already talking about the Robertson family. Duck Dynasty has been a household name for some time.  But now, it has just exploded.  News sites, Facebook, TV, and family dinners have been taken over by this one man’s answer to an age old question.  What is sin?

Some people say it doesn’t matter. They say that whether Phil Robertson’s position is right or wrong, he has a constitutional right to say it.  “If We Call it Free Speech, Let Phil Speak!” they shout with their shared Facebook images of Phil Robertson with his infamous beard and camouflage.  Others talk about persecution and how Christians are being marginalized and mistreated.

Is this about free speech?  Is it about the persecution of Christians?  While I admire the bold stand for Christ the Robertson family has taken both on the screen and off, I can’t help but think that this situation is bigger and more complicated than many people assume.

I may put myself at odds with both sides by writing this, but just as Phil Robertson has the right to his beliefs, A&E has the right to dictate what kind of people they will or will not have on their network. Their network is not public land or a private home. Whoever is in charge at A&E has rights too, and it may be their right to choose who reflects their values and who does not. Is it sad that the network finds prayer offensive and has now suspended someone for expressing the Biblical view that homosexuality is a sin? Yes, but we cannot be angry with them for disagreeing with us or failing to hold Christian values if they themselves are not Christian. If I owned a television network, I hope it would unarguably be my decision who gets a show and who does not. With my standards concerning using the Lord’s name reverently and my abhorrence of lying, I would be far more discriminating than most networks! Phil Robertson may have the Constitutional right to say what he wants, but A&E should not be forced to repress who they are either. Why do we expect non-believers to act like Christians anyway?

As far as persecution goes, Duck Dynasty is entertainment. It is non-essential.  I know some people plan their week around their favorite shows or set up the DVR to record them for later, but let’s look at the big picture.  There are people all over the world who live in daily fear that they will be arrested, tortured, and killed for sharing about Jesus.  People show up one at a time over hours or days to witness baptisms held in small tubs in crowded apartments.  People’s livelihoods are threatened, their children are taken or killed, and abortions are forced upon loving parents who cry for the babies they were never able to hold and nourish – just for following God’s law.  I know a lot of Christians will miss their weekly dose of laughter with the Robertsons if A&E doesn’t budge and the family stands by their statement that Duck Dynasty cannot continue without their patriarch, but aren’t there bigger things at stake than the American obsession with reality TV?

I think Phil Robertson is a good guy. I know he loves Jesus. I have heard his testimony about repenting and turning from a life of sin and resting fully on the grace of our savior Jesus Christ.  He is living proof that God changes lives. Yet, his remarks show a flaw in the way many Christians think.  And that is where we turn back to the question, “What is sin?”

First off, “Sin” is much bigger than the sexual sins Phil Robertson emphasized and crassly described in his comments.  Going back to the Ten Commandments, God shows that to be right with Him, we are to worship Him and Him alone, honor our parents, be truthful, etc. Of the ten, only two mention sexual sin, and the second of those, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” is only partly sexual since it goes on to condemn covetousness of all kinds. After houses, land, servants, and animals, Deuteronomy 5:21 adds, “or anything that is your neighbors.” God is holy, and His standards are higher than our attempted holiness can reach.

Romans 1 is one of the main chapters in the Bible used to condemn homosexuality. In verses 26 and 27, Paul speaks about both men and women giving up natural relations with the opposite gender and instead having dishonorable passions and committing shameless acts with the same gender. It seems simple then: homosexuality is sin. Yet, this is neither the beginning or end of the chapter.  Rather than being the cause of sin, homosexuality is the result of sin. Look at verses 21-22: 

 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”

So, sin is failing to honor God.  To be ungrateful to God is sin.  Claiming to be wise unto ourselves is sin.  Therefore, sin is failing to have a proper understanding of God and man.  Sin goes much deeper than mere actions.  The result of dishonoring God can be homosexuality.  But it is not the only result.

 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:28-32 ESV)
Yes, homosexuality is a sin, and Phil Robertson is right to not give approval to those who practice it. But as Christians, we need to be careful not to pick and choose what we consider sins based on what the hot topics of the day are.  Sin is a condition of the heart and from that condition springs all manner of unrighteousness. We thank God for His mercy in our lives and we lovingly pray that others (including the leaders of A&E) would honor God, give Him thanks, and stop committing and approving of unrighteousness.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

There is so much I am thankful to the Lord for this year.  I am not going to list them all here, but what a year it has been!  I echo the Psalmist when he wrote:

Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,
    or declare all his praise?
Psalm 106:1-2

I was busy in the kitchen today. Anna loved watching me make two cranberry apple pies.  I am not sure I have ever had that particular pie before, although I am sure I have had some kind of apple and cranberry dessert in the past.  This was an adventure for two more reasons as well.  I made the crust using coconut oil and made a lattice design with it for the top of my pies.  Making a lattice crust wasn't as hard as I imagined.  I am at the end of a long day, so I will sign off for now.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!  

Friday, November 15, 2013

John and Mary Brown, Wythe County, Virginia -- A Research Paper

Thomas Worley Epperson's parents were William D. Epperson and Frances Brown.  His maternal grandparents were John and Mary Brown. The big question is, which John and Mary Brown?  Apparently, Wythe County, Virginia, had two couples of a similar age at the same time with the same common names. I mean, really, can you get any more common than John and Mary Brown? This research paper may not be interesting to most of my readers, but it necessary for me to methodically work through what we know so as to carefully make the correct connections in my genealogy as I move forward.  No one wants to unknowingly switch trees while trying to climb one branch in their family tree.

Note: The name Umberger was not standardized during the 19th century and I use Umberger, Umbarger, and Umburger interchangeably in this post.


Obviously, the two Mary Browns were most likely born with maiden names which should distinguish them from each other. Online family trees identify their maiden names as Mary Umberger (or Umbarger) and Mary Repass. Most of these trees name the first, Mary Umberger, as the mother of the Frances Brown who married William D. Epperson and became my ancestor. More research needs to be done, but I must respectfully disagree with the Umberger theory. Instead, the evidence suggests, but does not definitively prove yet, that my Mary Brown was the one born with the name Mary Repass.

Let's talk about why.

To do this, we need to look at what we do know about Frances Brown and her parents.

Epperson: 1880

The most recent census we can find Frances Epperson in is the one taken in 1880, as she died in the early 1890's, but the 1890 census was destroyed by fire. In 1880, Frances Epperson, a white, married, female was living with her husband William Epperson, a 57 year old laborer, in Jeffersonville, Tazewell County, Virginia. Frances gave her age as 51, which would put her birth year about 1829. Her occupation was listed as "keeps house." Five of their children still lived at home: Mary (27), Sue (23), Lori (18), Ida (13), and William (9). The entire household was Virginia born with Virginia born parents.

Epperson: 1870

Ten years earlier, in 1870, "Wm D" and Frances Epperson were living in Black Lick, Wythe, Virginia. He is listed as a 45 year old day laborer. She is a 39 year old "keeping house." This gives us a second possible birth year of about 1831. Their children were Samuel G. (18), Mary C. (17), John T. (15), Susan E. (13), Thomas (11), Lucy F. (8), and Ida C. (13). Of note is that their next door neighbor is Sarah Repass, age 40. Another Repass family was listed on the previous page: N.H. (35), George F. (37), Sarah (30), Mary E. (16), and Lydia (61).  On the Epperson's other side were three Umbarger families: the adults being James (25) and Elizabeth (24), Joel (55) and Sophia (51), and Mary or Marcy (45).  So, William and Frances lived in very close proximity to both Repass and Umbarger families; they were their closest neighbors and possibly even extended family.

Epperson: 1860

Let's jump back ten more years. In 1860, William (27), a laborer, and Frances (31) were living in District 68, Wythe, Virginia. Frances' age on this census agrees with the 1829 birth year possibility. Their children are James (12), Eliza (10), Samuel (9), Mary (7), John (5), Susan (4), and Thomas (1).

There is one last member of the household that is very important to us for this study.  Her name is Mary Brown, and she is a 66 year old born about 1794 in Virginia.  Relationships are not given in the 1860 census, but it is highly probable that this is Frances' mother -- the Mary Brown whose maiden name and identity we are trying to uncover.

Just next door is a large Repass family headed by 43 year old Jacob Repass. An Andrew Umbarger (50) family is enumerated four pages later. Henry (77) and Nancy (50) Umbarger live closer, listed on the page just before the Eppersons.

Epperson: 1850

1850 is the first census record we see William (26) and Frances (22) enumerated together as a married couple. Her approximate birth year is 1828. William was a farmer, and the couple had two children: James (2) and Eliza (3 months). Just a few households away is the Joseph (25) and Eliza (20) Repass family, and, after that, the Harvey H. (23) and Elizabeth (28) Repass family.  No Umbargers live in their vicinity.

There is a marriage record that shows that William Epperson and Frances Brown were married on 12 Nov 1846 in Wythe County, Virginia.

Preliminary Conclusions

From these records of the William and Frances Epperson family, we can determine a few things about her parents. Both were born in Virginia.  The mother, Mary, was born about 1794, was probably married before 1828, and was still living in 1860.  A quick search of the 1870 Wythe County census shows us that it is highly unlikely she survived to that year unless she moved out of the county in her old age. The father, Mr. Brown, probably died before 1860 since he is not listed with his wife.

Brown: 1860

Now let us see what we can determine about the Brown families of Wythe County, Virginia who have similarities with OUR Brown family but may or may not be related to our Frances Brown Epperson.  The 1860 census shows that the Mary Brown living with the Epperson family was the only Brown old enough to be Frances' parent.  So, there is no identity confusion there.

Brown: 1850

Let's go back to 1850 to mix things up a bit. There are three Brown men old enough to be Frances' father: two named John and one named James. James appears to be married to a woman much younger than him named Jane.  That can't be him.

John H. Brown is not currently married, so that is not likely to be him since Frances' mother was still living ten years later.

The third man, John Brown, is in District 68, Wythe, Virginia -- the same area the Epperson family was living that same year. He is 61, so he was born about 1789 in Virginia. Enumerated with him is 59 year old Mary Brown. Her birth year of about 1791 -- only three years off from the Mary Brown we are looking for. I think we have a match!  With them is 19 year old John Brown who is probably a son.

In addition, and this is a crucial clue in discovering Mary Brown's maiden name, there are a large number of people living with the Brown family named Rippas: Mathamel (12), Frances (10), Robert (6), Mary (3), and Catherine (30). Who are these people? It is likely they are family members, but I don't know how they tie into the John and Mary Brown family.  65 year old Fredrick Repass, who was born in Pennsylvania, is enumerated nearby in the John Repass (28) family. Lidia Repass (42) heads another nearby family. Other Repass individuals are scattered throughout the community.  There are some Umbargers too, but they do not live as close to the Brown family as the Repass families.

John Brown: 1840

It is harder to distinguish families in 1840 since only the heads of households are mentioned by name, but it is possible to distinguish the families if you know their approximate ages, how many children they had, and those children's approximate ages.  In this case, we know that in 1840, my John and Mary Brown would have been about 51 and 48, respectively, and had at least two children, a daughter named Frances who would be about 11, and a son named John who would be about nine.

When we search the 1840 census for Wythe County, Virginia, we find there are two men listed as John Brown and one as John H. Brown.  John H. Brown is the head of a large household that includes 6 free white people and 6 slaves. If we look in the crucial age ranges, however, we see that while the oldest white male is the right age to be our John Brown and the oldest white female is only slightly too old to be our Mary Brown, there are no children even close in age to our Frances and John Jr. Slaveholder John H. Brown is not our man. The only thing in his favor is that he is listed next to the James Repass family, since we believe our Brown family is somehow connected to the Repass family.

Next, we look at a much smaller household.  This John Brown is too young to be ours; he is between 20 and 29 years old, his presumed wife is between 15 and 19 years old, and they have only one child, a little girl less than five years old.  So, this John Brown is obviously not the right man.

The last Wythe County John Brown is much more promising. This is a large household of 11 free white people.  The oldest male is between 50 and 59 and the right age to be our John Brown. The oldest female is between 40 and 49, and is the right age to be our Mary Brown. There are also three young men between 20 and 29, one between 15 and 19, and one between 5 and 9.  This last boy could be the John Jr. that was still living with his parents in 1850.  There was one young lady between 20 and 29, one between 15 and 19, and two between 10 and 14.  Frances may be one of these youngest girls in the family. I believe this family is our match. They were engaged in agriculture and there were two individuals over the age of 20 who were unable to read or write. They live relatively close to both Umbarger and Repass families, although they are not immediate neighbors.

John Brown: 1830

In 1830, there are again two men named John Brown and one John H. Brown. Again, the John H. Brown is a slave owner of a similar age to our John Brown, but the rest of the family's makeup is different. The "wife" is too old, and the children don't match up.

The first John Brown without a middle initial appears too young. He is only between the ages of 30 and 39. The oldest female does match our Mary Brown's age. Several, but not all, of the children's ages match up. Let's keep looking.

This last John Brown is between 40 and 49. The presumed wife is between 30 and 39. There are two males 15 through 19, one 10 through 14, and one 5 through 9. There is one female 10 through 14, two females 5 through 9, and 1 under five. Assuming that the two youngest children, Frances and John, are not born yet in 1830, this family matches our 1840 family perfectly with the exception that we have one girl between the ages of 5 and 9 who does have an equivalent in the 1840 census. Very likely, she married or was deceased before the age of 20 and was not enumerated with the family in 1840. The 1830 census in Wythe county seems to be organized by first letter of the last name, so "neighbors" don't really help us this time.

Incomplete 1820

1820 proved to be difficult. I feel there are pages missing as the heads of household are listed by first letter of the last name but starts in the middle of the alphabet. There are no families that even begin with the letter "B." I can say from perusing the records that Wythe County was already heavily populated with people named Umberger and Repass (with their variant spellings).

Census Summary

So it appears there were multiple men named John Brown of a very similar age in Wythe County at about the same time, but the details of their wives, children, and lifespans differ substantially.

Let's look at what we have so far. Our John Brown was born about 1789 in Virginia. His wife was probably born as late as 1791 in Virginia but claimed in her old age to be a little younger than that.  If the latter date is correct, she was born as late as 1794. Based on the ages of their children, John and Mary Brown were probably married in the early 1810's -- but it could have been late in the previous decade. John Brown was the head of a large family in 1830 and 1840 and was still living in 1850 with his wife and one son. He died before 1860.  The widow, Mary, was living with William and Frances Epperson in 1860 but had died by 1870.

Cemetery Records

Going to, it is no surprise that there are several John Browns buried in Wythe County, Virginia.  Looking at just those who died between 1850 and 1860, we have two: John H. Brown and plain John Brown (who is listed as John Robert Brown on the website, though this is unsourced). They are both in the Saint John's Lutheran Church Cemetery, and they are both married to women named Mary Brown.

One shows, "John H. Brown, Born Jan. 1790, Died Mar. 17, 1851." The matching stone for his wife says, "Mary, Wife of John H. Brown, Born 1793, Died 1847." These graves are next to each other at the cemetery's location J-3 and J-4. This couple perfectly matches the John H. Brown family we have been following but discrediting as our own.  Remember the John H. Brown that was unmarried in 1850, indicating that his wife had probably predeceased him? This is them, and they are not our John and Mary Brown.

The other Mary Brown is buried in the cemetery's J-12 location, and her stone reads, "Mary, Wife of John Brown, Born March [?], 1793, Died April 9, 1861 [or 1867]." The memorial transcriber suggested Mary's birth and death dates as March 13, 1793 and April 9, 1867. The matching stone at J-14 reads, "In Memory of John Brown, Died July 6th, 1853 in the 64th year of his age."  This couple matches our specifications perfectly.   Based on the facts given on the tombstones and in the census records, we have positively identified our John and Mary Brown.

Mary's maiden name is still unlisted in our primary sources, but interestingly enough, the Find A Grave bio states, "Mary Repass, daughter of Johannes "John" Repass and Maria Catherine "Kate" Hardrader, married John Robert Brown, son of Johann Michael Brown and Christina Poffenherrer Copenhaver." This information is not backed up by any kind of proof, but we do know from the 1850 census that John and Mary were living with several individuals named Repass, and it seems probable that Repass was indeed Mary's maiden name. This part is speculation, and I want to make it very clear that we have no evidence as of yet to be 100% sure of her maiden name, but this is the direction my research is taking me.

Future Research

We still have not definitively proven Mary's maiden name one way or the other, but we have shown that the family trees which unquestionably tie the Epperson family to the John Brown who died in 1851 and the Mary Brown who died in 1847 are sadly mistaken. If they are wrong about that, I sincerely doubt they are right about her maiden name being Umberger (or a variant spelling of that name).  I tend to think this maiden name has been claimed as a result of a marriage record on for John Brown and Mary Umberger who were married on 5 Aug 1809.  It is true that this record would fit very neatly into our family history, but the problem is that it fits neatly into multiple family's histories, and it is a proven fact that there were at least two couples named John and Mary Brown in Wythe County in the early 1800's of a similar age. We must be very careful that we do not grab up the wrong record (and the wrong maiden name) too hastily. It is possible, though still unproven, that our ancestor Mary Brown was the daughter of John Repass, and I hope to locate his will or other documents which may prove her lineage. I am also following up with the Find A Grave members who are maintaining the John and Mary Brown memorials on that site, and will make adjustments to this post as necessary.

Source Citations:; Year: 1880; Census Place: Jeffersonville, Tazewell, Virginia; Roll: 1393; Family History Film: 1255393; Page: 242C; Enumeration District: 088.; Year: 1870; Census Place: Black Lick, Wythe, Virginia; Roll: M593_1682; Page: 409B; Image: 198; Family History Library Film: 553181.; Year: 1860; Census Place: District 68, Wythe, Virginia; Roll: M653_1385; Page: 901; Image: 260; Family History Library Film: 805385.; Year: 1850; Census Place: District 68, Wythe, Virginia; Roll: M432_982; Page: 236A; Image: 68. Virginia, Marriages, 1740-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999.
Original data: Dodd, Jordan R., et al.. Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers.; Year: 1850; Census Place: District 68, Wythe, Virginia; Roll: M432_982; Page: 271A; Image: 138.; Year: 1840; Census Place:  , Wythe, Virginia; Roll: 579; Family History Library Film: 0029693.; 1830 US Census; Census Place:, Wythe, Virginia; NARA Series: M19; Roll Number: 200; Family History Film: 0029679.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Shooting Star

Zachary and I witnessed a shooting star tonight! A few quiet moments staring up at the sky did me more good than any traditional entertainment could. We live in a wondrous creation!

It was just tonight that I read something that fits: "For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): 'I am the Lord, and there is no other.'" Isaiah 45:18 ESV

Friday, October 11, 2013

Flying Kites

I was walking with my daughter the other day. The grass is still mostly green, and the trees have hardly changed their colors at all. Only a few have hinted of the glory to come.  Still, there was something different in the air.  Anna clutched one of my fingers in one hand and held her wooden half cylinder in the other as we walked up the path in our tight little neighborhood that is quaint in its own endearing way. I looked up into the clear blue sky and breathed deeply. One word, one desire, came to mind.


The air must have felt just this way that day I flew a kite so long ago. Which day? Which kite? I don't know. But sometime in the past, I must have flown a kite on a day just like today.

It could have been the day in Massachusetts when my family walked to the park from our old house in our Little Italy neighborhood. There were wide open fields to walk through before you arrived at the playground equipment. That big open space was tiresome and boring on most days -- especially after they removed the lonely, tall, metal slide that was probably deemed too dangerous for the modern child. Yet, on that special day, -- on the kite day -- the big open field wasn't in the way at all. It was our destination. I remember sitting in my daddy's lap on the grass, holding the kite string bobbin in both hands as I watched the multicolored kite float high above us. There was peace. Tranquility. Safety and joy in family. The wonder of something new.

Or, it could have any one of the days when my brother and I would ride our bikes to a very different park. It was smaller with scattered trees throughout, but it was just open enough to make kite flying possible and exciting. The wind was almost too strong to fly a kite.  It was Oklahoma wind. The infamous Oklahoma wind threatened to dash our kite into the branches of a nearby tree if we weren't careful -- or even if we were. But the wind wasn't constant, and once we conquered it we saw our kite sail to new heights and we had a chance to talk. To breath deeply.  I remember our kite went so high that we ran out of string. It wasn't possible for our kite to fly any higher. We could barely see the tiny dot that was our kite in the crisp, beautiful blue sky.  Perhaps it was that day .

Whichever day it was that felt and smelled so familiar, our day this week was perfection itself. The crisp, perfectly clear sky looked so inviting.  It needed a kite. It was just that kind of day. So, I remembered... and smiled.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Clara Elsie Epperson, Young Aunt

I can just imagine young mom, Mrs. Lizzie Redding, telling her little sister Clara -- 12 years her junior, "Pose with my little Elizabeth the way your posed with baby Keith when he visited. I just adore that photograph of you too!" Orders were potentially being given by a photographer, an older sister, and a mother who had transformed in the last few years into a beaming, proud grandmother. So, young Clara might be forgiven her scowl. Later on in life, she was known to dislike her photo being taken.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thomas Worley Epperson Obituary; Odebolt, Iowa

Thomas Worley Epperson
The Chronicle
Odebolt, Iowa
23 September, 1937

Aged Pioneer Died Saturday

Funeral Services for T. W. Epperson Held Tuesday

Thomas W. Epperson, for 55 years a resident of this community, was buried in the Odebolt cemetery Tuesday, Sept. 21. Memorial services conducted by the Rev. Lloyd Scheerer were held at the home on Hanson boulevard at 2:30 p.m. Minnie Kessler and Mrs. Marvin Friday sang "Face to Face" and "Abide with Me."

His two sons and four sons-in-law, Earl and Charles Epperson, Edwin A. Johnson, Otto Christensen, Errol Muckey, and W. G. Redding, carried Mr. Epperson to his final resting place.

Thomas W. Epperson, son of William and Frances Epperson, was born May 21, 1859, in Wythville, Withe [Wythe] county, Virginia, and passed away, after three weeks' illness, at his home in Odebolt Sept. 18, 1937, at the age of 78 years, four months, and 17 days.

In the spring of 1882 he came to Iowa [the 1925 Iowa census indicates he may have come to Iowa as early as 1880] and was married to Susannah Crozier [on December 14, 1882]. To this union 11 children were born. After living on the farm for two years, they moved to town where Mr. Epperson followed the carpenter trade until his health failed him. In 1932 Mr. and Mrs. Epperson celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in the presence of their children, marking a half century of living side by side here in the Odebolt community. Mr. Epperson was indeed an esteemed pioneer resident of Odebolt and literally did his part in building up the community. He enjoyed his home, where he spent many happy hours, and devoted much time to raising flowers.

Eight Children Survive
He was preceded in death by three children, Ruth, who died as a child; Ralph, who died in California; and John, who died in Virginia. Two years ago his wife answered the summons to that world beyond. Those left to mourn his loss are one sister, Mrs. Ida Shufflebarger of Yards, Va. [West Virginia]; eight children, Mrs. P. L. Chandler, Thurston, Neb.; Mrs. Edwin A. Johnson, Kiron; Charles Epperson, Craig, Neb.; Mrs. W. G. Redding, Lyons, Neb.; Earl Epperson, Ashland, Neb.; Mrs. Otto Christensen, Ida Grove; Mrs. Errol Muckey, Sioux City; and Ora Epperson, who made a home for her father in recent years. Also surviving are 30 grandchildren and four great grandchildren besides a large circle of neighbors and friends who knew him best.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Epperson, Craig, Neb.; Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Redding and Earl Martin, Lyons, Neb.; Earl Epperson, Ashland, Neb.; Mr. and Mrs. Otto Christiansen and family, Ida Grove; Mr. and Mrs. Errol Muckey and family, Sioux City; Mrs. P. L. Chandler, Thurston, Neb.; and Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A. Johnson and Nellie, Kiron were among those from a distance at the funeral.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Susannah Crozier Epperson Obituary; Odebolt, Iowa

The Chronicle
Odebolt, Iowa
15 August, 1935

Death Comes Suddenly to Mrs. Epperson

Settled here in 1882; Enjoyed Golden Wedding Two Years Ago

The sudden passing of Mrs. Thomas W. Epperson at her home here in Odebolt came as a surprise to the community Saturday evening. With only a few moments warning, death came about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, while she was sitting on the front porch with her husband. She was 75 years old.

Mrs. Epperson had been left rather feeble as a result of a stroke about a year and a half ago, and although she seemed to be quite strong physically, it left her heart in a weakened condition, which was the immediate cause of her sudden death.

Golden Anniversary
It was on Dec. 14, 1932, that Mr. and Mrs. Epperson had the joy of celebrating their golden wedding anniversary in the presence of their children, marking a half century of living side by side through hardships and happiness right here in the Odebolt community.

Since 1888, when Mrs. Epperson transferred her membership from her former church at Oak Park, Pa., to the Methodist church at Odebolt, she has been a faithful and loyal member of the local church. She was always ready to do her part in every activity of the church work. As a member of the Bible class, Circles and Missionary groups, she evidenced her faith in her Master by her works through all these years.

Susannah Epperson surrounded by several of her children. Back: Ora and Bess. Front: Clara, Jack (John), Susannah, and Floss (Flora).
Service at M. E. Church
Her pastor, the Rev. J. A. Farnham, was in charge of the memorial service at the Methodist church Tuesday afternoon. Mrs. J. B. Hatch and Eleanor Kessler sang "Home of the Soul" and "I Will Meet You at the Eastern Gate." Minnie Kessler was the accompanist. Burial was at the Odebolt cemetery beside a daughter, Ruth, who died in childhood.

Pall bearers were: J. L. Bruce, F. J. Gilbert, F. A. Frevert, Al Hanson, Thomas Raftery, and B. B. Strieby.

Before marriage Mrs. Epperson was Susannah Crozier, born Feb. 17, 1860, at Landisburg, Pa. Early in life she was converted, baptised and united in fellowship with the Church of God at Oak Park, Pa., from where she later transferred her membership to Odebolt.

Came to Iowa in 1882
In the spring of 1882 she came to Iowa and united in marriage with Thomas W. Epperson on Dec. 14, 1882. After living two years in the country, they moved to Odebolt, where they have lived for the last 50 years.

She was the mother of 11 children, three of whom preceded her in death, namely -- Ruth, who died as a little girl; Ralph, who died in California in 1927; and John, who died in Virginia a few years ago.

Surving her, in addition to her aged and feeble husband, are the following children: Mrs. P. L. Chandler, Thurston, Neb; Mrs. Edwin Johnson, Kiron; Mrs. W. G. Redding, Lyons, Neb.; Mrs. Otto Christiansen, Schaller; Mrs. Errol Muckey, Odebolt; Ora, at home; Charles, Craig, Neb.; and Earl, Ashland, Neb.

There are 30 grandchildren, three great grandchildren and two nephews.

Susannh Epperson holding two of her grandchildren, Kendall Muckey and one of the Johnson children.
Those from a distance who came for the funeral were: Mrs. P. S. Chandler, Thurston, Neb.; Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Redding, Fae Garth and Betty Sue, of Lyone, Neb.; Charles Epperson, Craig, Neb.; Earl Epperson, Ashland, Neb.; Mrs. and Mrs. Otto Christiansen and children, Schaller; Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A. Johnson and children, Kiron; Mr. and Mrs. George Miller and Mrs. Jennie Graff, Early; Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Christiansen, Olaf Olson and children, Schaller; Alta; Mrs. D. J. Edgar and daughter, Arthur; and Mrs. Crichton and daughter of Wall Lake. Lillian Engberg and Mrs. W. A. Johnson of Kiron.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thomas and Susannah Epperson Part One (work in progress)

Updated 4 December 2013

Thomas Worley Epperson was born on 1 May 1859 in Wytheville, Wythe, Virginia, one of 11 children of William D. Epperson and Frances Ann Brown.  William was a day laborer, and I am sure it was quite a feat to feed all those young ones.  Thomas was one of the middle children and only a toddler when his father served the Confederacy during the War for Southern Independence. A family story persists that William was a circuit rider during the Civil War. I don't know if he was or not (I would love to know more), but I do know he was a private in the 51st Regiment, Virginia Infantry, Company C. In 1870, William owned no real estate and his personal estate was worth $350. 350 dollars in 1870 had the same buying power as 6244.76 current dollars. As a young man, Thomas became a carpenter and traveled to Iowa to build a barn in 1880.  He chose to stay and was 23 years old in 1882 when he married Susannah Crozier, a newly arrived 22 year old from Pennsylvania.

Susannah was the daughter of Armstrong and Mary Jane Updegraff. She was born on 17 Feb 1860 in Landisburg, Perry County, Pennsylvania and was the youngest of three children.  Her older siblings were Alfred James Crozier and Sarah Elizabeth "Lizzie" Crozier.

Her father, Armstrong, was a constable in Spring City, Perry, Pennsylvania when the census was taken in 1860; her maternal grandmother and aunt, Sarah and Henrietta Updegraff, also lived with the family.

Mary Jane, age 27, died when Susannah was two years old, and Armstrong married his sister-in-law Henrietta.  So, Susannah's aunt became her stepmother.   Armstrong served in the U.S. Army for a year and six months in 1864 and 1865 as a sergeant in Company K of the 210th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry. This very likely meant he was stationed at Appomattox Court House during the surrender of Lee and his army and participated in the victory parades in Washington, D.C. before returning home to his wife and children. Armstrong survived the war but died three years later on 28 March 1868. His daughter Susannah was only eight years old.

As a result of Armstrong's untimely death at age 36, the family was broken up. The Crozier name proved difficult to find in 1870 (it was misspelled "Kossier") but I did eventually find Susannah, or "Susan" (as she was called in her youth) still living with her aunt/stepmother Henrietta and maternal grandmother Sarah Updegraff in Spring township, Perry county, Pennsylvania. Her 13 year old year sister Sarah was with the David and Eliza White family in Pine, Mercer, Pennsylvania. I have been unable to locate Alfred. It is possible that Alfred died young, but we have no idea what truly happened to him. 

Susannah became a follower of Christ early in life.  She was converted, baptized, and united in fellowship with the Church of God at Oak Park, Pennsylvania where she remained a member until she transferred her membership to her Iowa church several years after her move there.

Susannah's grandmother, Sarah Updegraff, died 5 Aug 1875 and was buried in the Saint Peters United Church of Christ Cemetery in Bridgeport, Perry, Pennsylvania. By 1880, Susan was now 20 years old and a servant in the Charles and Catherine Kutz family in Middlesex, Cumberland, Pennsylvania. Her stepmother/aunt lived just next door.

Two years later, in the spring of 1882, Susannah Crozier moved to Iowa. I would love to find out how she decided to come to the midwest. Did she come alone? Did she come with family or as a servant?

Susannah Crozier married Thomas Worley Epperson on 14 Dec 1882 in Sac City, Sac, Iowa.  Their first of 11 children, Etta, was born nine months later in September of 1883.

This is just some of the beginning of the story of Thomas Worley Epperson and his wife Susannah Crozier.  It is a work in progress for sure, but writing some of the details found in records and indexes makes my family's history come alive for me. It is my hope to include little stories told by the grandchildren who loved Grandma and Grandpa Epperson so much.  More to come!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Zachary and I have moved our little family back to the town we consider home: Ponca City, Oklahoma. Our time in Okmulgee was perfect for us as newlyweds, but it was time to come back to the town we plan to establish our family and business long-term (Lord willing). Zachary’s family goes back six generations in the Ponca City area, and even though my Kay County roots can’t even begin to go back that far, I do have three generations of my family alive and kicking here, so that counts for something, right? …and now Anna makes four generations!

The point being, Zachary and I are family people, and we are glad to be back where we have family.  Never mind what an awesome place our Ponca City is.  Some people leave Ponca City only to return months or years later because they love it that much.  Many never left at all.

Ponca City is a beautiful city.  With the mild summer and plenty of rain we had this year, we are enjoying a lush, green August.  What a joy it was for me to stroll through the Cann Memorial Gardens with my husband and daughter the other day.  It is vibrant and alive with colorful flowers and full greenery. The gardens and I have history together.  It is the garden I went to as a kid on homeschool field trips, created music in as part of Miss Suzi’s Singing School during the Herb Festival, and walked with my sweetheart during our courting days. I even did some research on the ancestry of the family that originally lived on the property and donated it to Ponca City. Zachary proposed to me at the Cann Gardens, and we spent blissful hours planning our wedding and marriage there. Now we are back with our daughter!  It is also a great place to walk with friends and catch up about our exciting summers and plans for coming months.
Anna is soaking up the grandparent time. She is truly blessed to have all four grandparents and one great grandparent here in Ponca City. Of course, she isn’t spoiled at all! J An aunt and uncle make life even more exciting.

Zachary is working hard to build his business [Zachary J Pruett Computers] and do other work to keep the bills paid and food on the table. The Lord has blessed us with timely opportunities. He loves working with computers, and I love watching him problem solve and enjoy his work so much. Thank you, Jesus!

Although the last of the boxes haven’t been unpacked yet, our little house is beginning to feel a lot like home. I wonder what the next few years will bring?
My first loaves baked in our little house.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Aunt Jane in Her Own Words

My Grand Aunt Jane went to be with the Lord today.  She was a precious woman of faith and will be greatly missed by her children, grandchildren, and other family. In remembering her today I was reminded of how thankful I am to her for writing me several years ago and sharing memories of growing up with my Grandma Marjorie. Marjorie and Jane were the Muckey sisters closest in age and only 2 1/2 years apart.  Her letter is priceless to me.  It opened up experiences and memories that I could not have heard otherwise.  I am including excerpts of Aunt Jane's letter below.   Enjoy!

We sang duets from the time we were little girls in Sioux City, Iowa.

Our dad built us a table and chairs and often we had “tea parties” at it.  Our mother would make us little peanut butter sandwiches and glasses of orange juice, and we loved that!

Neither one of us were supposed to be out in the sun much – so our Mother and Dad would find a shady area for us and lay out a blanket so we could play dolls.  We also played paper dolls a lot!  Our older sister Mary made lots of paper dresses for them.  What wonderful memories!  When we played dolls – she said her name was “Penny” and mine was “Virginia.”  We didn’t have many dolls so we would have imaginary children – Sometimes six and sometimes just one.

Marjorie bought her own car – it was a Chevy – I didn’t learn to drive till after I was married – so we made a deal – She bought the car and I bought the gas.  Thus we went everywhere together.

Marjorie at the piano making music with her sister Jane
Marjorie and I worked at R. H. Donnely’s.  We often made skirts alike.  We had the same supervisor at Donneley’s and the supervisor often got us mixed up – Even tho Marjorie had Black hair and mine was brown.  When we weren’t together I guess she thought we looked alike.
One time before either of us were married – (We lived in Arizona at the time) we went to a youth rally with the pastor’s wife driving.  We were going around a very winding down hill road and the brakes went out on the car.  The pastor’s wife said, “Pray, girls, pray.”  Well, we had already been praying as she tended to drive very fast.  Well, as you see, we made it home ok but what a scare!

We often bought dresses alike – One time we went to another town to shop and we found three dresses alike (in the right sizes) we bought them and we gave the one to our sister Mary.  Then we were The Muckey Triplets (ha).
Marjorie and Jane
We shopped at a store in Nevada, Iowa called Ambrose’s.  Every payday we’d go to the bank and then to Ambrose’s to see what new things we could dream about or put on lay away.  We were always borrowing money from each other, but never could keep track who owed who what.  One day we were in Ambrose’s paying on account (or layaway) and we were trying to decide who owed who what, and Mr. Ambrose spoke up and said, “Last week Jane borrowed $5.00 from Marjorie.” So he solved our problem.  After that when we were in Ambrose’s store we’d say, “Mr. Ambrose, who borrowed money last week?” and he always knew cause we usually settled our accounts there.  Then we knew how much we could spend.  I guess I’m really rambling now – but thought maybe you’d get a kick out of that little story.

My thoughts and prayers are with Aunt Jane's surviving siblings, children, grandchildren, and everyone else who will miss her dearly.