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Prolific moonshiner, wealthy Ohio landowner among those in family tree with birthdays this week

Birthdays from my family tree for the week of Sept. 28:

Sept. 28

Myrtle Kidd, (my first cousin once removed on my father's side), b. 1917 in Rowan County, Ky.; details of death uncertain. Myrtle is the daughter of John William Kidd and Dora Kidd Kidd. Dora was the sister of my grandfather Elmer Kidd. Dora and John shared a surname and were second cousins.

Sept. 29

Martha Susan Hall, (my first cousin four times removed on my mother's side), b. 1854 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. 1928. Martha was the daughter of David Hall (1829-1911) and Sesa E. Brown Hall (1826-1896). Martha also was a cousin of my 2G grandfather, George Washington Hall.

Emma S. Perry, (my second cousin four times removed on my mother's side), b. 1868 in Rushville, Ohio; d. Sept. 5, 1951, in New Salem, Ohio. Emma's parents were Solomon Perry and Mary Wilson Perry. Her great-grandfather Jacob Wilson was my 5G grandfather on my mother's side.

Sept. 30

Albert David Quesenberry, (my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1890 in Wagoner, Rowan County, Ky.; d. Feb. 13, 1971, in Mays, Rush County, Ind. Albert is one of a dozen children of Isaac Quesenberry and Lydia Alice Hall Quesenberry. Lydia was the sister of my 2G grandfather, George Washington Hall and a cousin of Martha Susan Hall, who celebrated a birthday Sept. 29.

Davis William Kidd, (my second cousin once removed on my father's side), b. 1909 in Rowan County, Ky.; d. March 22, 1999, in Morehead, Rowan County, Ky. Davis was the first cousin once removed of my grandfather, Elmer Kidd. Like my grandfather, Davis married a Lambert — Myrtle Mae, who was the second cousin of Elmer's wife, Lenore Lambert Kidd.

Clarence Richard Ray, (my wife Deborah Renee Ray's uncle on her father's side), b. 1937 in South Carolina; d. March 24, 1978. Clarence — "Uncle Mac" to my wife — was the brother of my father-in-law, James Kenneth Ray. Mac was the oldest of his parents' five children and named for his father.

Born with spina bifida, Mac was a March of Dimes baby and suffered health problems throughout his life. He had just turned 40 in March 1978 when he got an infection — possibly the result of braces he wore rubbing against his back — and passed away of complications that included heart and kidney failure.

My wife recalls that despite his disabilities, Mac was able to do quite a bit for himself. He drove with the aid of a modified vehicle and worked as a lab technician at the Medical University of South Carolina. He married Twylah Marie Evans in 1972.

The accompanying photo is among my wife's favorite of her uncle. It was taken during a school field trip to the Charleston airport. The school children got to board the plane, though the didn't go for a ride that day.

Oct. 1

Valentine Wilson was born here, in Harper's Ferry, Va. The inset photo is of his daughter Malinda, one of 23 children he had by three different wives. Valentine Wilson moved as a youngster to Kentucky, then to Ohio. There, he became a wealthy landowner.

Valentine Wilson, (my 5G uncle on my mother's side), b. 1785 in Harper, Wise County, Va.; d. July 2, 1855, in Madison County, Ohio. I don't know how to put this ... Valentine was kind of a big deal. People knew him.

Valentine moved with his father, Jacob Wilson, from Virginia to Kentucky in 1790, when he was just 5 years old, and then to Greene County, Ohio in 1802, when he was 17. He moved to Madison County in 1816 and amassed a great fortune there. In addition, he had 23 children by three different wives, the first two dying while in their 20s. Seventeen of those children lived long enough to become heads of families — a remarkable number for that time.

According to a history of Madison County written in the late 1800s, Valentine was a man of extraordinary gifts, both mental and physical. Once, when riding after night, he was halted by highwaymen who intended to rob him. He completely disarmed them by answering in a calm and unruffled tone of voice: "Well, well, boys, you have got me this time; I have 25 cents in my pocket, and if you will go back to the tavern with me we will take that out in a treat all round." They then let him pass without a search, never realizing he had more than seven thousand dollars besides his 25 cents.

He died of dropsy, July 2, 1855, on the farm where he settled in 1816. From the small beginning of 160 acres, his first purchase, he had amassed about 7,000 acres in the next 39 years — and about $60,000 in personal property, and a thousand head of cattle and sheep. He died the wealthiest man who had ever been a citizen of Madison County.

His third wife, Nancy Roberts Wilson, survived Valentine by more than a half century. After her husband’s death, she continued to live for many years on the old homestead on the banks of Dear Creek. She was a devoted member of the Christian church, and died at Summerford in 1912, according to the county history.

In 1973, Valentine Wilson's house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Key to its inclusion was its well preserved architecture, which included such elements as fine original details, according to the Dictionary of Historic Ohio Places. It was the first place in Madison County to be accorded this distinction, but the designation as a historic site did not ensure its survival — the house has since been destroyed.

Sarah H. Nixon Arnold, (my wife Deborah Renee Ray's 4G grandmother on her mother's side and her 5G aunt-in-law on her mother's side), b. 1785; d. April 19, 1843, in Morristown, Morris County, N.J. Debi and I only recently stumbled upon this relationship after trying to flesh out more of her maternal ancestry. There are all sorts of interesting connections:

  • She is a distant relative of President Richard M. Nixon.

  • Her daughter, an Arnold, married a Nixon, so she is both a blood relative and in-law to my wife.

  • Her husband's family includes Benedict Arnold.

  • According to the Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County, N.J. source indicates the Arnolds of the U.S. were all descended from one of two brothers, who immigrated from England in 1587. I also have Arnolds in my family tree — Arnolds who intermarried as often with the prestigous Lee family of Virginia as the Arnolds of New Jersey intermarried with the Nixons — so Debi and I probably have common ancestors.

Sarah husband — who was 26 years her senior and had been married once previously — is perhaps her most interesting relation, however. Before their marriage — indeed, before Sarah's birth — Jacob Arnold was a celebrated man in his locality during the Revolutionary War. His light-horse company was an independent organization, raised entirely in Morris County, and it won an enviable distinction for its long and brilliant career, according to this article on He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Continental army. Jacob also was the proprietor of the Arnold tavern in Morristown, on the west side of the public green, where Gen. George Washington and the Marquis de LaFayette spent one winter as his guests, holding many conferences with all the leading men of the army, and where also the balls of the officers were held.

Mary Ann Wilson, (my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1832 in Somerford, Madison, Ohio; d. Aug 6, 1901. Mary Ann was one of the nine children Valentine Wilson had by his third wife, Nancy Donnels Roberts Wilson.

William H. Hall, (my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1857 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. Sept. 5, 1934, in Cloverdale, Putnam County, Ind. William was the son of David and Sesa Brown Hall and a cousin of my 2G grandfather, George Washington Hall. He was born in Kentucky before his parents moved to Indiana sometime between 1860 and 1880.

Bun Clifford Wilson, (my 2G uncle on my mother's side), b. 1899; d. Sept. 23, 1974, in Mansfield, Richland County, Ohio. Bun was the brother of my great-grandfather Burl Wilson, and one of at least five children of Abijiah Wilson and Martha Royse Wilson. I'm not going to reveal all about Bun here — he deserves his own entry and will get one soon. Suffice it to say, Bun was the stuff of mountain legend — a prolific moonshiner (and eventually a well-heeled one, too) who did a hitch in a federal prison and is reputed to have killed at least one man in a gunfight.

Here's my favorite story about Uncle Bun, as my grandfather Oliver Wilson knew him: Before he was sent to jail for a brief stint, Bun worried that his wife, Bessie Brown Wilson, would not have enough money to get by. So while hoing rows of potatoes before his incarceration, he buried jars of his moonshine. Whenever Bessied needed money, she was to dig up a pint or two and sell it for cash.

Eugenia Beatrice Brown, (my first cousin twice removed on my mother's side), b. 1904 in Morgan County, Ky.; d. April 22, 1986, in Moraine, Montgomery County, Ohio. Eugenia was one of 14 children of Rufus Humphrey Brown and Amanda Melvina Williams Brown, and the granddaughter of William Washington Williams and Rebecca Caudill Williams.

Oct. 2

Elanor Judy Wilson, (my 5G aunt-in-law on my mother's side), b. 1785 in Somerford Township, Madison County, Ohio; d. Sept. 5, 1819, in Madison County, Ohio. Elanor was the second wife of Valentine Wilson and bore him six children.

Judge Daniel Boone Caudill, (my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1879 in Morehead, Rowan County, Ky.; d. April 8, 1967, in Fayette County, Ky. Daniel Boone Caudill was the circuit court judge of the 21st District of Kentucky, composed of Bath, Montgomery, Rowan and Menefee counties. He came from a prominent family that originated in North Carolina and relocated to Letcher and Greenup counties in Kentucky. Some of the family, including Daniel's branch, moved to Rowan County, Ky., in the mid-1800s.

The judge was the son of Abel Caudill, a former Civil War POW who fought for the Confederacy, and Mary Ann Hall Caudill. (My mother has Caudills on her mother's side of the family and Halls on her father's.) Abel founded the People's Bank of Morehead in 1906 and began its operation on Jan. 1, 1907. Another of his business enterprises was the Caudill-Blair Grocery Company which he organized in 1910 and which was operated until 1932.

Abel started a custom of giving his children $500 upon their marriage, but Daniel and a few other of his brothers — there were 16 siblings — convinced their father to give them the money to use for college instead. Daniel studied law at Valpariso and was the first practicing attorney in Morehead to have a law degree, according to "Rowan's Progress" by James McConkey. (p. 134)

Daniel was a board member of the bank his father started, and also was a stockholder and officer at a smaller bank in Sandy Hook, serving as its president at the time of his death in 1967, according to "Rowan's Progress."' He also owned a lot of land, including some leased to Morehead State.

Edward B. Wilson, (my second cousin three times removed), b. 1897 in Kentucky; details of death uncertain. Edward was the son of William Monroe Wilson and Ella Byron Wilson. He also was the great-grandson of Isaac Wilson and Theodocia Lee Wilson, my 4G grandparents.

Edith Boone, (my wife Deborah Renee Ray's first cousin three times removed on her father's side), b. 1918 in Kershaw County, Ky.; d. March 21, 1990, in Chapin, Lexington County, S.C. Edith was the daughter of Aaron Boone and Isabelle Melton Boone, and the granddaughter of John Daniel Boone and Frances Shehorn Boone, my wife's 3G grandparents.

Oct. 3

Maud Jane Leadingham Caudill, (wife of William Henry Caudill, my first cousin three times removed on my mother's side), b. 1887 in Carter County, Ky.; d. Dec. 15, 1960, in Wisconsin. Maud's husband was the great-grandson of Samuel Webb Caudill, my 4G grandfather.

Edith Opal Wilson Mills, (my first cousin twice removed and my second cousin twice removed on my mother's side), b. 1917 in Rowan County, Ky.; d. April 16, 1988, Reston, Fairfax County, Va. Edith was the daughter of Alvin Lee Wilson and Mary Merida Stidham Wilson. Lee was the brother of my great-grandfather Burl Wilson and sold his brother the land that would become the family homeplace where my mother grew up. Edith was a double relative because the Stidhams were also related to the Halls, and Burl married Mahala Susan Hall.

Oct. 4

Elden Glenmore Kidd (my father). Happy birthday, Dad. Hope you have a great day.

Alexis Rae Damron Wilson (my cousin-in-law on my mother's side). Happy birthday, Alexis. Hope it is a great one.

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