Volume 1 Issue 1 Dec. 1994
• Why A Riddle Newsletter?
• Second Printing of Riddle Book
• More Children of Benjamin Tyre Riddle Discovered
• Riddle Reunions
• Reunion In Tennessee
• Descendants of Altha Riddle Live as Presnells
• Is Mountain Heritage High School on John Riddle's Land?
• Search for Riddle Kin Goes On
Why A Riddle Newsletter?
After publishing Some More Riddles Of North Carolina, in July 1994,I have been asked by many of my cousins to start a Riddle Newsletter so that our large extended family can keep in touch. I plan to publish it twice a year one in November or December and one in June or July. As you can imagine. I could not document all of the descendants of our patriarch John Riddle because I could not establish their lineage or for many, know that they existed.
As some of you may know census records are made public 70 years after they are recorded. In other words, the 1920 census records are just now being made available in some libraries. So I am dependent on my cousins to let me know about their respective families. As the Riddle book gets circulated, I hear from some who ask when will it be updated to include them, their family and future generations. I hope to publish an update in two or three years (God, willing); in the interim, I hope that you will support theRiddle Newsletter by providing me information and stories that will serve as the nucleus for the update.
If you have information such as marriages, births, deaths, people I have omitted (due to my ignorance), or any stories that you would like to share with me and our Riddle family, please let me know.
Second Printing of Riddle Book Now Available
The requests for copies of Some More Riddles Of North Carolina. far exceeded the number of copies that had been published.
By mid-August, 1994, the first printing had been sold out. Due to the many requests, the 2nd printing is now available at the same price as the lst printing, $29.00 a copy including mailing costs. Use the order form at the end of this newsletter.
More Children of Benjamin Tyre Riddle Discovered
Through the gracious endeavor of Jan Riggs Riddle and her husband Lee Riddle I have been given access to priceless information contained in the files of Judge Harry Lee "Chick" Riddle, Jr. of Morganton. Judge Riddle died September 29, 1983. Lee (Harry Lee III) is Chick's son. Jan worked in Chick's office for several years. Jan and Lee have preserved much of the information collected by Judge Riddle over his distinguished career. Chick was very interested in his ancestry and spent many years researching the history of his Riddle/Rust ancestors. One letter, in particular. contained in his file was written by Chick's grandmother Mary Naomi Rust Riddle. Mary Naomi was the wife of Samuel Riddle (ed. see page III-3-6 of - Some More Riddles of North Carolina. Hereafter referred to as the "Riddle Book".)
The letter was written in June 14, 1927. I believe it was written in response to a request by Harry Lee Sr., Chick's father for information about his ancestors. The first part of this letter is about her Rust/Tate ancestry. The second part adds the names of three more children of Benjamin T. and Rachel Austin Riddle, Chick's great grand parents. As shown on page III of the Riddle Book, ten children had been previously identified.
I now quote from Mary Naomi's letter with a few editorial remarks: "Your grandfather Riddle came from South Carolina. His name was John. (ed. John Riddle was the great grandfather of Harry Lee and Chick's great-great-grandfather. This John Riddle may have briefly been in South Carolina, but a strong case exists that indicates that he came to what is now Yancey County, N.C. from Stokes County, N.C.) Your Grandpa Riddle (ed. Benjamin Tyre Riddle) married Rachel Auston (ed. Rachel Austin). Her mother was an Allen. Your grandma had fourteen children. Pollia (ed. Mary Riddle #63, b. 1818) married Sam McPeters. Jim (ed. James Riddle #47) married Elizabeth Hensley (ed. #48). Ben Riddle's Margaret (ed. #64) married Leander Ray (ed. #348). Bettsy (ed. Elizabeth "Betsy" #577) married Carl Ray (ed. John Calvin Ray #576) and died (ed. Carl). He was Ben Ray's father. then Bettsy Married Jim Mc (ed. James McMahan #733). Tom got killed (ed. not previously identified). He was thrown from a horse. Bob (ed. Robert #58) married Froney Burleson (ed. Sophronia #223). John (ed. John 360) married Nancy McKinney (ed. Nancy E. #224). Nellie (ed. "Nellie" Elendor Riddle, not previously identified) married John Arrowood and moved to Kentucky. Nancy (ed. not previously identified) married John Banks (ed. believed to be Jonathan Banks as shown in the 1850 Yancey County Census as family #1379). Jane (ed. Lucinda Jane Riddle #62) married John Dillingham. Eliza (ed. #57) married Alexander Penland (ed. this marriage not previously recorded). Bill (ed. William P. #61) married Addie Dillinger (ed. Margaret Adeline #239). Your grandpa married the second time to Elizabeth Ray (ed. Millisa "Elizabeth" Bennett Ray #215), she was a Binnett and raised in Georgia. She first married Hiram Ray, then your Grandpa married her. They had Ben Ervin (ed. #216). he married Julia Wilson (ed. #217) and was killed by lighting."
So we now know the names of three more children of Ben T. and Rachel Riddle: Tom, Nellie, and Jane. In addition we are able to add the names of spouses that were not previously recorded. Another interesting revelation is that "our" Eliza married Alexander Penland. We had assumed that Eliza had never married and had lived with her father Ben until his death in 1875. Many of the folks in the Pensacola area knew Mary Naomi Rust as "Aunt Molly Tate".
An insight into her connection to the "TATE" name is revealed by the fourth line in her letter: My Daddy's mother was Rachel Tate Alexander, granddaughter of "Rock" Tate." (ed. See the Riddle Book, page III-3-7 for more information on "Rock" Tate and the Tate Connection.) Mary Naomi was 85 years old when she wrote this letter. This was seven years after the death of her husband Sam. She died in 1930 and is buried beside Sam in an unkempt cemetery high on a hill behind the Pensacola High School (now Ray Miller's TV Cable facility).
Five of her children, Sally, William Houston, Robert Vance Tate, Bertie Riddle King are buried in the same cemetery. Another child, Cora B. Riddle Coffey is buried in the Riddle Cemetery just below the cemetery where Sam and Mary Naomi are buried. Dr. Joseph Bennett Riddle started the exodus of Mary Naomi's children from Yancey County. Dr. Riddle established his practice in Bridgewater (near Morganton). Burke County the ancestral home of his mother Mary Naomi Rust. His younger brother Harry Lee soon joined him. More on the Riddles of Morganton in our next issue of the "Riddle Newsletter".
A.J. Riddle Family Reunion-Texas July, 1994 was a busy month for this old Riddle man. I was invited to the Riddle Reunion in Italy, Texas. It has been held almost every year since 1928. It is known as the A. (Andrew) J. (Jackson) Riddle Family Reunion and is usually held on July the 4th each year. These Riddles are descendants of Randolph I Riddle (1762-1832) brother of our patriarch John Riddle (1764-1844). John moved from Stokes County and settled in what is now Yancey County in 1805. His brother Randolph I moved from Stokes County to Franklin County, Tennessee before 1812. Andrew Jackson Riddle (b. 1860, TN) was a great grandson of Randolph I. In 1902, A.J. and most of his family (wife and seven children) moved west first to Texas. then to Oklahoma, and back to Texas to stay in 1928. As mentioned on page II-17 in the Riddle Book. Ed Riddle of Houston, Texas, is a sixth generation descendent of Randolph I. Ed and I have exchanged information about our Riddle families. He is planning on publishing a history of Randolph I descendants. While doing research in Richmond, Virginia, Ed came to visit me on July 31st. We had a ball trading tall tales about Texas and the Riddles.
I am sorry to report that I missed this Riddle Reunion because I was working night and day trying to finish the Riddle book and have it ready for the "Pensacola - Coming Home '94" held on July 16th. As many of you know we made that commitment and by 2:00 PM, Mary Cathryn Riddle Watts and I sold all of the books that I had brought with me. This was the first time that I had the honor of meeting many of my cousins. You did me proud and I am looking forward to seeing and hearing from you again.
Benjamin Erwin Riddle Family Reunion On August 13th, I attended the Riddle reunion given by the descendants of Benjamin Erwin Riddle, son of Benjamin Tyre and Elizabeth Bennett Ray Riddle. See the related article "More Children of Benjamin Tyre Riddle Discovered" on page 1. Ben Erwin married Julia Wilson and they had five children: John, Kelse, Emory, Oscar, and Maggie. Oscar died as a baby. The other four children married and have produced a flock of some of the best looking Riddle cousins I ever had the opportunity to meet. Sadie (Mrs. Charles Furr) and Frances (Mrs. John Brinkley) daughters of "Kelse" Riddle have been working with me to expand the coverage on the descendants of the Benjamin Erwin Riddle Family. I hope others in that family will help me by sending me updates and stories about their own family. I plan to publish an abstract of these updates in future issues of this Newsletter. This updated information will also be published in the 2nd. edition of the Riddle book in 1996.
Riddle Reunion In Tennessee
I attended a Riddle reunion in Kingsport, Tennessee on August 21st. My host was Mac Riddle of Kingsport. These Riddles are descendants of Tyre Riddle brother of our patriarch John Riddle (1764-1844). Our John named his third son Benjamin Tyre in honor of his brother Tyre. Regrettably, it was raining that day and only about 85 was able to attend. I was told that had it not been raining more than 130 usually show up. What a joy it was to me to be welcomed into this Riddle family. While there I met Charlotte Riddle Muench. She has done extensive genealogical research into this branch of our Riddle family and hopes to publish a history soon. I hope to learn more about this Riddle family. Through them we may find our Robert Riddle (b. 1801, d. ????). son of John Riddle. Sr. This Robert and his family disappeared from Yancey County between 1830 and 1840.
Descendants Of Altha Riddle Today Live as Presnells
Thanks to the information provided by Lowell T. Presnell of Burnsville, we now are able to identify the descendants of Altha Riddle. Altha was the daughter of Lewis Riddle (page III-3-4, Riddle Book). When the Riddle book went to press in July, I was able to identify only the children of Lewis and Minerva Riddle. With Lowell's contribution we are able to learn considerably more about this Riddle family. Lewis was the son of John "Johnny" W. Riddle, Jr. and "Nellie Cook, Indian Princess" (see page III-2-4. Riddle Book). Johnny and Nellie are believed to be one of the first families to settle on Brush Creek. Lewis joined the Army of the C.S.A. on September 25, 1861. He was assigned to Company C, 16th North Carolina Infantry known as the "Black Mountain Boys". After a battle near Richmond, VA, on June 26, 1862, Lewis was reported missing in action. He later rejoined his unit and was still with them in 1863.
Amos Presnell (b. Jul-18-1848, d. Aug-28-1942) married Altha Riddle (b. Sep-07-1847) on August 2, 1871. Amos and Altha had at least seven children. Many of their descendants live today. Lowell Thomas Presnell is the great-grandson of Amos and Altha. He has compiled an extensive genealogy on his Presnell/Riddle family. Future issues of the Riddle Newsletter will explore more into the Presnell/Riddle connection.
We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Lowell and to the Presnell family in the loss of Lowell's mother May Bell Wiseman Presnell on November 3, 1994. May God be with you all.
Is Mountain Heritage High School on John Riddle's Land?
Our cousin Sadie Riddle Furr, daughter of T. "Kelse" Riddle, has offered an interesting hypothesis that suggests that the land that is now occupied by the Mountain Heritage High School once belonged to our patriarch John Riddle (17641844). Her hypothesis is as follows:
[11 As reported on page III-3-10, Riddle book, the area that is now the Mountain Heritage High School's football field was once a hill where Benjamin Erwin Riddle was struck by lighting and killed. This hill and surrounding land was owned by Benjamin Erwin and was passed down to his son "Kelse". The heirs sold the land to Yancey County School System and the Mountain Heritage High School was constructed on this property.
[21 The back side (southwest) of this land extends to the Cane River. Sadie suggests that this land may have been part of the land that John Riddle purchased from George Wilson in 1805. A copy of this land deed is provided on page III-1-4A through III-1-4C in the Riddle Book. We know that Benjamin Erwin's father Benjamin Tyre Riddle was appointed as the executor of his father John Riddle. Sr.'s estate. It is possible that Benjamin Tyre retained some or Part of the land that John Riddle bought from George Wilson and it was passed on to his son Benjamin Erwin. Benjamin E.'s mother Millis died in 1872. His father died in 1875. By the time the 1880 Yancey County Census was taken only Eliza Riddle who gives her age as 45 and Benjamin E., age 17; remain in dwelling #33 of Pensacola Twp. Dr. Lloyd Bailey states the Benjamin E. lived at the site of the present Haven Heights Nursing Home in Burnsville. The 1900 Yancey County Census shows Benjamin E., his wife Julia and children living in #120, Burnsville Twp. I hope that some of our cousins will shed some light on this subject.
The Search For Riddle Kin Goes On
Many of the Riddle families are not included in the Riddle Book. Any one having information on Riddles not appearing in the Riddle Book, please contact me at the Riddle Newsletter address.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR