Volume 7, Issue 2, June 2001
• The Life and Times of Robert George Brogdon
• My Yancey County Roots
• The Riddles of Turkey Cove, Virginia
• WWII Memorial
The Life and Times of Robert George Brogdon
By Russ (Parr) Merryman.
Robert George Brogdon was born in Phoenix, AZ in 1924 one of 14 children. His parents were Thomas “Tom” Newton Brogdon and Hanna Mallie Sparks.
Hanna was from the Sparks family who were cited in the book Images of the Past – A Pictorial History of Mount Pleasant and Titus County, Texas first published by the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune in 1992. In addition to the Sparks family, Robert’s Stephenson and Riddle ancestors are also included.
This is an excellent reference for researchers whose ancestors are from this area as it includes historical photos from this small town.
The individuals who are of primary interest in this article are William Carroll Sparks, who was a member of Co. 1, Titus County Grays during the Civil War, and his wife Arelda Jane Stephenson.
Arelda was the daughter of America Jane Riddle who is a descendant of William, the Tory Riddle. For articles dealing with William Riddle see the Riddle Newsletter Vol. 2 Issue 2, Vol. 3 Issue 1, Vol. 3 Issue 2, Vol. 4 Issue 1, Vol. 4 Issue 2, Vol. 6 Issue 1, and Vol. 6Issue 2.
William Riddle is Robert George Brogdon’s 4th maternal great-grandfather. Following this descendant line we go from William, to son Isaac, then son Elam and wife Matilda Simpson and their daughter America Jane.
America Jane Riddle married William M. Stephenson on Dec. 19, 1844 in Boone Co., KY where they sired numerous children.
Two of their children were Susan Mann and Arelda Jane Stephenson born 14 May 1846 in TX. America Jane appears on pages 14, 15 and 59 in Images of the Past as grandma Stephenson.
Rose, Shirley & Robert G. Borgdon
Robert G. Brogdon & daughter Shirley
My Yancey County Roots
by Jim Hartung Aberdeen, MD
The first of my Riddle ancestors, my third great-grandfather, to appear in NC was John W. Riddle, Sr.
Tradition alleges that John Riddle, Sr. and his brothers Randolph and Tyre were the sons of Samuel Riddle and the grandsons of Basil Riddle, born about 1735 in Ireland. Basil left Ireland and settled in Accomack Co., VA near the Blue Ridge Mountains.
What we do know is that by 1790 John and his brothers Randolph and Tyre had land grants in Stokes Co., NC and appeared in the 1790 Stokes Co. census records.
Randolph was born about 1760 and married Jemima Hawkins probably in Stokes Co. about 1784. They produced six sons and seven daughters. Soon after 1800 Randolph sold his land and moved his family to Franklin Co., TN.
In 1827 Randolph decided to again relocate, this time to Jackson Co., AL. Randolph died about 1836 and Jemima passed away in 1842. A large group of Randolph’s descendants later settled in Texas.
Tyre was born about 1765 and lived in the northwestern corner of Stokes Co. near Brown Mountain. Tyre and his wife Clara had three daughters and one son. Tyre died about 1840 and is almost certainly buried along with Clara and their daughters in the Riddle-Palmer Cemetery near Francisco, NC. Their son Asa moved to Lee Co., VA after Tyre’s death and his descendants’ later spread to VA, KY and MO. One of Tyre’s descendants was John Paul Riddle founder of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
John Riddle, Sr. was born about 1764 and had two wives. The first is unknown and the second, Nancy Jane Biddix he married 26 Feb. 1831 in Rutherford Co., NC.
While living in Stokes Co. John and his first wife bore the following children, Lucinda (ca. 1787-1847), William (ca. 1793-ca. 1858), Margaret (ca. 1795-ca. 1879), John (1800-), Benjamin Tyre (1800-1875), Robert (ca.. 1801-?), and Mary (1804-?).
On 9 Oct. 1802 John sold his land in Stokes Co. and moved to Buncombe Co., which is now Yancey Co.. On Jan. 7, 1805 he purchased land on the Cainey River from George Wilson.
His children born in Yancey Co. were Nathaniel and Jane. John died in 1844 and believed to be buried in an old abandoned cemetery on the Mitchell Co. side of Ross Branch.
Most of the Riddle families presently living in the Yancey Co. area are descendants of this John Riddle.
About 1825 John’s son Nathaniel began farming in Yancey Co. and married Rebecca Tatum and together they produced the following children, Nancy born 1826, John W. born 1829, Hiram B. born 1831, Julia A. born 1834, James E. born 1836, Mary born 1838, Mollie born 1840, Matilda L. born 1845, and Emma born 1847.
Between 1850 and 1855 his wife Rebecca died and on 2 Sept. 1856 he married Elizabeth Edwards and sired two more children, Isabelle born 1859 and Smith born 1864.
Nathaniel’s last appearance in the census records was in 1870 when he was living with his daughter Nancy and her husband John Holcomb and their family near Bald Creek in Cainey River TWP. He was apparently suffering from senility. Nathan’s youngest child, Smith was also a resident of the Holcomb household.
From what can be ascertained his half-sister Nancy and her husband John raised Smith. On 18 Aug. 1889 J.P. Penland married him to Julia Austin at the home of James Edney. Julia was the daughter of Ezekiel Austin and his wife Lydia.
Julia died within two years of their marriage and Smith then married Sara Wilson on 17 Dec. 1892. Sara was the daughter of Mitchell A. Wilson (1823-1909) and Lucinda Metcalf (1827-ca. 1870) and had previously been married to an Ingle by whom she had had two sons.
Melvin Penland, Smith Riddle & Matilda Penland
Smith and Sara had one son, Walter Lee born 25 Sept. 1893 and one daughter Lille Belle born 28 March 1895. Unfortunately, Lille Bell died three years later.
In 1900 Smith and his family were living on a rented farm near Middle Fork of Ivy TWP, between Mars Hill and Barnardsville in Madison Co.. How long they resided at Middle Fork is unknown but by 1910 Smith, Sara and Walter had returned to Yancey Co. and were living on Horton Creek Rd. in Price’s Creek TWP. Their next-door neighbors were the John Metcalf family who were probably related to Sara as her mother was Lucinda Metcalf.
By 1920 we find Smith, age 56 and a widower living with Clyde Metcalf, his wife Mary and their daughter Alice. Clyde was the son of John Metcalf their neighbor on Horton Creek Rd. The date of Smith’s death is unknown.
The Riddles of Turkey Cove, Virginia
In the December 1999 issue of the Riddle Newsletter, we published an article about the death of Mack Riddle who was known as Mr. Fourth of July in Kingsport, TN. (See article James Mack Riddle 1913-1999.)
Mack had been the spark plug for the Riddle Reunion held on the third or fourth Sunday every August for many years. Mack was a descendant of Tyre Riddle via Tyre’s son Asa.
Tyre Riddle was a brother of our ancestor John W. Riddle, Sr. (1764-1844). For several years Mack’s lineage to Tyre was unknown to me. Recently I heard from Faye Riddle Bocock, Mack’s second cousin, once removed. She graciously contributed information that solved this mystery. Mack is the 3rd great grandson of Tyre. His Riddle lineage is as follows:
Isaac Zane and the Wyandots
Isaac Zane (1753-1816) was the son of William Zane. Isaac’s brother Col. Ebineezer (Ebenezer) Zane (1747-1811) was the commander of Ft. Henry in Wheeling, WV during the Revolutionary War. He was a pioneer who established a land claim at the junction of Wheeling Creek and the Ohio River in 1770 where he established the first permanent settlement.
He later acquired additional lands including the present Zanesville, OH, which was named after him. Ebenezer was a frontiersman who blazed the trail, Zane’s Trace from present-day WV to KY.
Isaac and his brother Jonathon were returning home from school near Moorsfield when the Wyandot Indians captured them. At the time Isaac was eight years old. Two years later, Jonathon was ransomed and was returned to his family but Tarhe, the Chief of the Wyandots, refused to ransom Isaac.
When Isaac was eighteen he escaped and made his way to Fort Henry and his family. Unfortunately the Wyandots soon recaptured him.
Tarhe’s daughter Myeerah had developed a fondness for Isaac and they were married about 1774 after his recapture. Isaac again escaped during the Revolution but this time he was captured by the Shawnees near Pittsburgh.
Isaac was about to burn at the stake when Myeerah and a large body of Wyandots arrived and claimed Isaac as their captive. He was turned over to Myeerah and they returned to the Miami-Mad River valley, now Zanesville.
Isaac and Myeerah later visited his Zane family at Wheeling and were formally married in a Quaker wedding. They had seven children who mostly married Wyandots and followed the tribe into Upper Sandusky, OH and in 1842 to a reservation near Lawrence, KS.
James, Isaac Zane’s grandson became the Head of the Wyandots. The present Chief, 1959 is Lawrence Zane, Isaac and Myeerah’s descendant. Myeerah died in February 1816 and Isaac died in October 1816 in Zanesfield, OH.
There is a monument and plaque erected in memory of Isaac Zane the White Eagle.
In memory of Isaac Zane
The White Eagle of the Wyandots
Born in Berkley Co., Va in 1753
Died in Zanesfield in 1816.
Age 63 years
Captured by the Wyandot Indians in 1702 and carried to the Valley of the Mad River. He grew to manhood among the Indians, and married the daughter of chief Tarhe. He was the first white settler in the mad river valley, by nearly half a century. His fort and cabin were the center of a new civilization, and the town was named in his honor. His labors and influence for peace in behalf of the whites and his service for his country were recognized and rewarded the government.
The captivity of the young Virginian, and his union with the daughter of the Wyandots proved a great blessing to the settlers of the valleys of the Mad River, the Miami, and the great northwest.
Zane Grey (1875-1939), the famous American novelist was born in Zanesville and is thought to have been a descendant of this Zane family. In 1904, he published his first novel, Betty Zane that is about Isaac’s sister Elizabeth (ca. 1766-ca. 1831).
When Indians attacked Fort Henry, she ran through the Indian fire to a nearby hut and returned with a keg of power that helped save the fort. Zane Grey is best known for his adventure stories of the American west, including Riders of the Purple Sage, The Lone Star Ranger and many others.
Some of his novels where made into movies such as his last book West of the Pecos written in 1937. He died two years after it’s publication.
John Riddle (1813-1884), son of Asa is thought to be the first of this family to settle in Turkey Cove, now the Dryden area of VA. John was born in Stokes Co., NC and married Arena Jones (1816-1893).
She was the daughter of Stephen Jones and Mary “Polly” Ann Parsons. Stephen Jones, John’s father-in-law left NC and settled on a 200-acre farm in Turkey Cove several years before John and Arena and joined them.
John’s father and mother, Asa Riddle and Mary East, later moved to Turkey Cove where Asa was given a large land grant about six years before he died. Asa and Mary ended their lives in Turkey Cove where they are buried. John and Arena Jones Riddle had eight children and many of their descendants remained in the Lee Co., VA area.
Isaac H. Riddle & wife Sarah M.J. Napier
World War II Memorial
Do your remember where you were and what you were doing on December 7, 1941? I do. I was 11 years old and we were living at my grandfather Lunel Riddle’s farm which was adjacent to the Coleman Boundary of the Pisgah National Forest, NC.
The farm was located about a mile from the Dillingham community on the Buncombe Co., NC side of Mount Mitchell. At that time none of the three houses on the farm had in-door plumbing, electricity, or a radio. Mostly the only transportation was walking.
On that particular Sunday my father Luke was home for the weekend and he had taken us to the Dillingham Baptist Church in his car. He worked in Asheville, which was about 30 miles away. In 1941 the roads were so bad it took about a 1-1/2 hours to make the trip from our farm to Asheville so he remained in Asheville during the week.
As we exited the car and began to walk toward our house, my grandmother began staring at the sky. We asked her what she was looking at. She replied, “Do you see that cloud in front of the sun?” We stopped and looked toward the sun, which was hidden by an unusual appearing cloud.
It was a perfect outline of the United States map. You could see the east coast, including Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, and the west coast. This cloud was darker than the others, but the rays of the sun radiated from behind in long reddish yellow spikes. We marveled at the unusual cloud. My grandmother said it was a sign that something momentous was about to happen to the United States.
World War II Memorial Arch
Everyone was hungry and wanted dinner (lunch for those not from the south) and the incident was soon forgotten. On Monday morning December 8th, I walked the mile and a half to school as usual and heard that the Japanese had attacked a place named Pearl Harbor.
Some of the more affluent families in Dillingham had heard the news on their radios. On that day, December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech before Congress asking for a declaration of war against Japan.
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” ……… “I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”
War had been raging in Europe since 1936. The Rome - Berlin - Tokyo Axis was formed in 1936-37 and Japan had occupied most of the Chinese ports by 1938. German aggression began with the annexation of Austria in March 1938 and by 1939, Hitler had seized all of Czechoslovakia.
The Soviets collaborated with Hitler and formed the Nazi - Soviet Pact on August 23, 1939. On September 1, 1939, the German army marched into Poland. On September 3, the British and French declared war on Germany. By September 20 almost of all of Poland was in German and Soviet hands. The Soviets had entered the war on Poland on September 17. We learned a new term: blitzkrieg (lighting war).
Many people in the U.S. did not believe the war would reach North America but in 1940 Congress enacted the first peacetime conscription, the draft that passed the Senate by one vote. The lend-lease program was also enacted and the U.S. began supplying weapons and supplies to the British and their allies.
By June 25, 1940, France signed an armistice with Germany that gave Hitler control of northern France and the Atlantic coast of Europe. In the summer of 1940, Hitler had only one remaining enemy in Europe and that was Britain. He hoped to defeat England by destroying the British air force by bombing them into submission. When this failed, Hitler ordered his army to invade Russia.
Scores of people felt that the US would be drawn into the European war by 1941. Others such as Charles A. Lindbergh, the famous aviator, wanted America to remain neutral. Lindbergh stated in his America First speech on April 23, 1941, that we could not win the war for England and that we should think of the welfare of America first.
When people learned of the Pearl Harbor casualties after the Japanese attack thousands of young men eagerly volunteered for military service. Most Americans became committed to winning World War II at any cost.
My Uncle Jack, Arthur Edwin Riddle, enlisted in the Army on July 22, 1941 and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1942 and served in the Allied North African Campaign with “Old Blood and Guts” Brig. Gen. Patton. He continued under Patton’s Command when it fought its way through France and Germany.
My Uncle Bob, Robert Young Riddle was the next in our family to join the Army in 1942. He soon reunited with his brother Jack in France.
My father, Luke LaRue Riddle, was 37 years old when he joined the Army a few months prior to the end of the war in Europe. He was honorably discharged shortly after the Japanese surrender which ended the war.
World War II Memorial
My uncles and my father did not consider themselves war heroes. Like many servicemen of that era they did what was expected. Over 16 million men and women had been mobilized for service by the conclusion of the war. Almost every family in America had a relative serving on active duty.
On September 2, 1945, Japan formally signed the surrender agreement on board the USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay.
Fifty-six years after the war the country still does not have a memorial to honor those who served. Over 1,000 WWII veterans die per day. Those still living are now in their late seventies, mid-eighties, nineties.
In 1993 Congress finally passed legislation authorizing the construction of a National World War II Memorial in Washington and President Clinton signed the legislation into law on May 25, 1993. Millions of Americans rejoiced and after almost fifty years the generation whose spirit, sacrifice and commitment to the common defense of freedom would finally be honored.
It would take another eight years before the National Park Service would issue a construction permit.
Construction was scheduled to being in March 2001, but a lawsuit filed by a group who oppose the size and location of the memorial has delayed construction. On May 28, 2001, Memorial Day, President Bush signed legislation that should allow construction to begin although opponents believe they may still have legal recourse to block it.
If construction commenced now it will take thirty months to complete and another one million WWII veterans will have passed away. The cost of the $160 million memorial is being funded primarily from public donations.
If you would like to support the effort to build the Memorial or would like to have a member of your family’s name who served in the war entered in the Registry of Remembrances call the following toll free number for the required information:
National World War II Memorial
2300 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 501
Arlington, VA 22201
E-mail: World War II Memorial
Web Sit: World War II Memorial