----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dell--Ekron--Half Moon--Little River--Lost Cane--Perry--Pettyville--Roseland--Shonyo--Whistleville

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The John Whistle Family of Dell

The History of the Anne Boarman
and John Wellington Whistle Family
Compiled information from Don Brinn Interview, January 1998,
a family publication by Bonnie Brinn Phillips, and my personal files

L to R  Front: Clem Whistle, Morris Whistle, Chester Whistle, Rom Whistle, Dock Whistle, Wilsey Whistle

L to R Back: Artie Rose Whistle, John W. Whistle, Nola Whistle

  John Wellington Whistle was born December 15, 1861. His family arrived from Germany with Lord Baltimore  before the Civil War. Two  brothers already lived here. They had settled in Owensville, Kentucky, on the Ohio River, buying numerous acres of land at $2.00 per acre.  John would never know his father. Shortly after the family arrived in the United States, the Civil War began. John's father died from yellow fever while in the service, never seeing his youngest son (John). Before his death, John's father had participated in Sherman's March to the Sea.
    On December 4, 1886, John married Anne Boarman from the same area. Over the years,  eight children would be born to them: Wilsey Alphonsus, Clement Hamilton, Nola Agnes, Arreatus Lawrence, Artie Rose, George Maurice, William Chester, and Joseph Rommie. They were fondly called the Big Eight.
    Hard times hit the Whistle-Boarman family. Around 1890 they decided to move on down the Ohio River to a little town close to Mayfield, Kentucky, where John would work in the logging industry.  Several of the Boarman family already lived in Fancyform, Kentucky, when John and Anne joined them there.
    John Whistle was over forty when his wife died of tuberculosis,  but he kept his family together. He had eight children to raise, ages ranging from the youngest at two years old to the oldest at eighteen years old. Bonnie Brinn Phillips remembers her grandfather:  "He was a family man, a loner, both a roamer and a stay-put-er. Non-religious, perpetual talking machine, and not really very lovable. He tried his hand as a school teacher, farmer, logger, homesteader, store-keeper, and carpenter. He didn't stay with anything long, but managed to raise all of his childrent to be respectable, successful land owners."
    After Anne died, John decided to move around. He wanted to go to West Tennessee, around Union City and Newburn, but couldn't find any land he liked. He'd heard about the government giving away land in New Mexico.
The three oldest boys and J. W. could each claim a quarter section of land there, but they decided to go ahead of time and rent some land first. They took cattle, horses and mules, leaving the younger Whistles behind. It didn't take them long to decided New Mexico was the wrong place to be.  In the winter of 1909, the Whistle men drove the teams back to Hornersville, Missouri, and spent the winter there. By 1910 they were logging at Deering and Steele, Missouri, while buying farm land north of Steele.
    At the turn of the 20th century, logging was also the major industry in Mississippi County, Arkansas. As the virgin timbered forests were cleared, farmers began to move in, buying the rich Delta lands for only a few dollars. In 1916, several families moved to Dell from Steele. The Wallace and Walls families were two. The Whistles also joined the migration. John bought land approximately one-half mile northwest of Dell, "right on the ditch, across from the colored church". He cleared it that same year and put in crops. The boys did most of the work. "I'm not sure Grandpa ever did anything." (Don Brinn) Two houses were also built in 1916 where their farm was located. Nola stayed at home and didn't marry for a very long time. She had become the mother figure at only age 14.

    In 1923, J. W. owned a store in Dell, located on Main Street. The streets were gravel.
    In 1927 a tornado hit Dell, killing four people. "Uncle Doc developed TB, which is what his mom died of, and never was very active physically. They went west for his health. They were back here when the storm hit, staying with the Winns. For some unknown reason, they went up to Dad and Mother's or they would've been killed, too. The storm stayed on the east side of the bayou for some reason." Both Mr. and Mrs. O.P. Winn were killed.

The Whistle Brothers 

Whistle Family Records
John Wellington Whistle, born December 15, 1861, and died January 19, 1941, married Anne Boarman, born September 15, 1966 and died November 28, 1904. To them were born eight children:
1. Wilsey Alphonsus Whistle, born December 4, 1886, and died January 12 1949, married Stella Crawford, born December 19, 1900.
2. Clement Hamilton Whistle, born August 16, 1888 and died January 9, 1952, married Irene Wall, born June 20, 1897 and died March 20, 1976.
3. Nola Agnes Whistle, born December 21, 1890 and died January 23, 1977, married John L. Lewis, born April 8, 1885 and died January 10, 1959.
4. Arreatus Lawrence Whistle, born August 7, 1893 and died July 28, 1955, married Tommie Winn Mc\onnel, born February 22, 1907 and died July 13, 1990.
5. Artie Rose Whistle, born September 29, 1895 and died September 28, 1992, married John Herbert Brinn, born February 13, 1889 and died February 25, 1970.
6. George Maurice Whistle, born July 7, 1898 and died December 23, 1972, married Rosalind Allen, born September 28, 1901 and died 1994.
7. William Chester Whistle, born February 19, 1900 and died May 26, 1953, married Gladice Geneva Vandiver, born January 7, 1902 and died November 17, 1990.
8. Joseph Rommie Whistle, born April 26, 1902 and died February 7, 1981, married Ruth Elah Gilmer, born April 30 1909 and died September 2, 1973.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Vintage Photos of Two Whistle Barns: Whistleville, AR

Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR
I was so thrilled when my own third cousin, Lee Knight of Dell, contacted me and offered his vintage photos of two of the many Whistle barns to share with you. Lee's family rented land from the Whistles for many years, and Lee still works the land with present owner Tim Griggs.  He has many stories and fond memories of the Whistleville area.
I, too,  have fond memories of my visits to Whistleville during the late 1950s-early 1960s. Suzanne Edwards was a close friend of mine. Her mother was Mildred Whistle Edwards, daughter of Clem Whistle, Sr.  Mildred and Gerry lived in Whistleville and were a part of the Whistle Farm. I'd often spend several days with Suzanne, exploring the west barn*, as well as the cotton gin and grain bins. We bought many an ice cream bar from that general store.

And, probably some of you remember the school picnics at the "pecan grove"--just down from the Edwards home. They were always a highlight of our school year.
Whistleville is located south of Big Lake and southwest of Dell on North Mississippi County Roads 309 and 538.  Founded by Clem Whistle, Sr., Whistleville was a plantation farm, complete with the Whistle home, numerous barns, a cotton gin, grain bins, equipment storage sheds, tenant homes, general store, and an African-American church--to name a few.  

( These photos were very small, so transferring them to digital images caused the pixels you see. My scanner didn't do them justice.)

1971 Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR

The two barns in the above photo were located east of the intersection of Whistleville on Co Rd 538. They were known as the east barns. Mules were brought each morning from the west barn* (close to the Whistle Home) to the east barns to be harnessed and readied for a long day's work.
1971 Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR

 The larger Whistle Barn stood on the east side of the complex. It was razed ca. 1975-76.

1971 Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR

1971 Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR

1971 Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR

Late 1970s Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR

The smaller barn stood to the east of the large barn, storage sheds, farm shop, and office. It still stands today--barely. No longer in use, there are tentative plans to raze it soon.

Late 1970s Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR

The equipment shed is still occasionally in use but in need of repair.

Late 1970s Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR

1971 Photo from Lee Knight Collection, Dell, AR

I'd like to thank Lee Knight for so generously sharing his vintage photos with us--and for the information given about the Whistle Farm. He has left with us a legacy of history that otherwise would have been lost. I have more to share with you later on.
Photo compliments of Don Brinn

Learn more about the early Whistle Family and their part in Dell history:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Genealogy Tips & Inspiration on Pinterest

Just a quick note to let you know I have a Genealogy Board on Pinterest with Tips on Research sources and lots of Inspiration from others. I'll be adding to the board along the way, so check back often. I've been very pleased with all the info on Pinterest!

If you're interested. . . .

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hector Township named for the William Hector Family, First Pioneers

Hector Farm, ca 1900

William Hector moved his family to Mississippi County from Missouri in 1837. William actually lived east of Big Lake as early as 1828, when he helped survey the then Territory of Arkansas.  Born in Virginia in 1791, William lived on his farm, in the area that is now called Roseland, until his death in 1865. His son Sam Hector, who arrived with the rest of the Hector family, also owned land in the Roseland area, as well as several pieces of property north of Pemiscott Bayou, directly above present day Dell. Goodspeed speaks of Sam in his BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHEASTERN ARKANSAS:
    "Let it be remembered that this region of country abounds in lakes, and that, on the map attached to Part II, of the Historical Collections of Louisiana, drawn and printed at an early period during the last century, Big Lake, on the borders of Mississippi County, Ark., and Dunklin County, Mo., are marked as the extreme northern limit of De Soto's expedition; thus the reader will have some solid reasons to believe that the movements of De Soto in 1541, in this county, have been properly traced. The country in and around Big Lake, or Mich-i-gam-ias, its Indian name, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, still bears upon its surface traces of a wide but now extinct population; and precisely such a ditch as described by the Portuguese narrator can now be traced near the home of Mr. Sam Hector, of Big Lake.
    Sam Hector, a truthful, upright citizen of Big Lake, who is proud of his Indian blood, lived in 1833 at an Indian village called Chil-i-ta-caw, the site of Kennett, Dunklin County, Mo., not far from Big Lake.
    When he settled on this lake in 1837 the Indians occupied the country, chief among whom was Corn Meal, John East, Moonshine, John Big Knife and Chuck-a-lee. The latter killed an Indian named Keshottee on an island in Little River, still known as Keshottee's Island. He thinks the Indians gave the name to the Bayou now called Tyronza. Corn Meal told Mr. Hector there had been an Indian town on his (Mr. Hector's) place, and several along the banks of Little River. Where these villages were said to have been located he has often seen apple and peach trees growing in the woods."
 Descendants of William Hector remained a part of Dell Community history well into the 20th century. 

In 1901, Hector Township was established from part of Chickasawba Township, honoring this pioneer family.

Hector Farm, ca 1900

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Finding Your Roots in the Missouri Bootheel

Did you know that Northeast Arkansas was once a part of Missouri Territory? We were also a part of the lands claimed by the Spanish and French before the Louisiana Purchase. . . .Odds are, if your ancestors were around from the 1780's-1821 (when Missouri became a state), you'll find your family records in the Bootheel of Missouri.

My own family is deeply tied to that early history of the state. . . .For years--I mean YEARS--they alluded me because of the lack of records that have been kept in the Bootheel. . . .My Grandmother Magers, who was a Ruddle and was born in Hayward, Mo, knew nothing about her family. She was orphaned when a young child. Her half sister raised Grandmother in the same area but it appears separated from the Ruddles of Ruddles Point. All I had in the beginning was a name.

I found the Ruddles to be a huge part of American history, beginning way before the War of Independence and found in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and finally Missouri as they made their way west. The confusion stemmed from the families naming the males in the family--John, William, Andrew, Archibald, George, and Cornelius---over and over again. . . .The only way I've been able to track my line was through the wives names, primarily on Deeds, Wills, and other documents. Even that information often wasn't available. . . .

I won't go into a lot of detail. . . .that's not my purpose in this post. . . .My point being, it's been a long, hard search of 25 years to finally break down my brick wall, mainly because of the lack of recorded history in the Missouri Bootheel. . . .You can't imagine how thrilled I was when I finally found John Ruddle, my missing link, at the sight of the Linda Division of Bunge on the Mississippi River!

I can tell you after roaming all the back roads and looking for cemeteries, that unless your ancestors are buried in a city or on higher ground, most of the private cemeteries along the River are lost.

So what do you do?  I've research many libraries, funeral homes where some cemetery records are kept, actual cemeteries, books, courthouses and have found the places with the most records. I thought I'd share that information with you, maybe save you a few steps in your search for Missouri Bootheel ancestors.

The Dunklin Country Library in Kennett, Mo 
has one of the best genealogy collection I've found in the Bootheel.
It not only contains Dunklin Country records but also information from
New Madrid Country, Pemiscot County and other counties in the Bootheel.

Dunklin County Library
209 N. Main Street
Kennett, MO 63857
Open 8:30-5:30 M-Sat


The Dunklin County Courthouse is on the square in Kennett.
Early records were lost during the Civil War era from a fire.
No one will say who set the fire. . . I'll let you draw your own conclusions.
Ancestors living in Dunklin County after the War will be on record there.
Deeds, Birth, Death, Marriage and Divorce Records are found
at the Recorder's Office

Dunklin County Courthouse
Recorder of Deeds
P O Box 389
Kennett, MO 63857
Open 8:30-Noon, 1:00-4:30 M-F


Pemiscot County Courthouse in Caruthersville has
a wealth of information in early
documents--deeds, marriages, wills, plats--
and are organized and easy to find.
Pemiscot Country was formed from New Madrid County,
so some of the early records
of people living in Pemiscot Country will be found in New Madrid. 
The ladies there are well informed and helpful.
Records at the Pemiscot Co Courthouse
are available for Deeds, beginning in 1833
Marriage Liscenses begin in 1882
Death Records and Wills are also on file there.

Pemiscot County Courthouse
Recorder of Deeds
610 Ward Avenue
Caruthersville, MO 63830
Open 8:30-4:40 M-F


In order to trace my Ruddles, who settled in both the present day counties of Pemiscot
and New Madrid, I had to trek on up to the New Madrid Country Courthouse.
These people have got it together!
Records are all indexed, in order and easy to access.
They are housed in a vault, safe from fires and vandalism.
The ladies are very knowledgeable of early history and very helpful.
Deeds begin in 1805, after the Louisiana Purchase.
Marriage Licenses begin in the 1840s, with some references before that.
 These can be found in the Recorder's Office.
The Probate Office did not have the older Wills available to view,
but there's a ton of information through the land deeds in the Recorder's Office.

New Madrid Country Courthouse
Recorder of Deeds
450 Main Street
New Madrid, MO 63869


For online research, my main source has been through
the Secretary of State's Missouri Digital Heritage Collection.

It's a wonderful resource for early records. I haven't researched the entire
site, yet. . . .I continue to find more information every time I access it.

Another online source that might of help is
the Missouri Gen Web.


Hope these sources will be of help to you. . . .It does come from years of experience searching for my own family. . . .

I'll be posting more on the common history of Northeast Arkansas and the Bootheel of Missouri soon--I hope. . . .

Good Luck with your Search!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mississippi County's Best Kept Secret--The Museum in Osceola

"On June 20, 1901, Mr. Fred G. Patterson purchased the lot where the 1902 Fred G. Patterson Store Building sits on, for the sum of $250.00. This area of town was referred to a 'New Town'. After two years of successful business in 'New Town' Osceola, Mr. Patterson purchased the adjoining lot #4 from W. H. and Lou Pullen, also for the sum of $250.00, paid in cash on April 18, 1904. . . .In 1904, he moved the Fred G. Patterson Store into his new building. . . .used as the Patterson Dry Good Store until 1987. . . ."


"Miss Lonetta Patterson made a gift of the 1902-1904 buildings to the Mississippi County Historical & Genealogical Society on November 21, 1993 in memory of Henry J. Patterson. By her request, these buildings will always be used for a Historical Center, not just a museum. Permanent exhibits are on display for the enjoyment of the citizens of Mississippi County and the American public."

Did you know about this museum in Osceola?
They have a wealth of information on Mississippi County, Arkansas
and the displays are a delight--taking you back to the early 20th Century,
when life was a lot different from today.

It's a wonderful resource for all Mississippi County residents,
as well as those interested in our Delta Heritage.
The admission cost couldn't be better. . . .It's free!

See and learn about the museum itself, as well as life in the Delta. . . .

Use their resources for genealogy research. . . .

Learn about the Mighty Mississippi
and how it affected the development of our county. . .

In addition, each month the museum focuses on a special topic. . . .
This month of March is Women's History Month,
Where. . . .

I was very honored to be included for our work
at the Widner-Magers Farm Historic District, north of Dell.

John and I spent several hours this week at the Mississippi County Museum and highly recommend it to everyone. It's Mississippi County's best kept secret. . . .but, we want to get the word out! So, hop in your car and get over there! You'll find the folks are friendly, knowledgeable and brimming over with that southern Delta charm.

Open: Monday-Friday, 10:00-4:00 p.m.

Visit their website at: 



Friday, January 18, 2013

Some Personal Memories from Elaine

I recently had an interesting email from Elaine. . . Her Dad was from Tomato, but they lived for a time in the Half Moon area. . . .

"Daddy was from Tomato! He and Mamma met in IL.  A tornado blew our home down in 1963 so  we packed up and came to Arkansas. I stared googled eyed thru the windows as we passed the fields watching them blazing with fire.  They were buring off what remained from the wheat for the cattel to be feed during winter as we went under the arch leaving Missouri entering Arkansas; Steele!!!  I shall always have that vision in my mind. 
We stayed with my daddy's sister, Aunt Eddy and my beloved Uncle Audie Dunham of Tomato, Arkansas!!!  As we crossed over that levy and I saw house built on those tall stilts; oh, my my---   "MAMA!!!"    "What, child?"  "What's that? Why are those house's on stick's" I cried ever so confused...   "Honey, the farm land is so rich here you see."   Well, that may be;  but in my mind I all ways figured personally I would rather get up a bit earlier and ride further to live in a home that didn't flood every winter. Back then people had respect, looked out for one another, had Barn-raisers etc.  Didn't lock their doors - left widows open for the fresh air and breezes..... oh, well;  I'm suppose to be focus on Halfmoon and Dell so rein me back now please;
When first arriving in Arkansas we stayed in Tomato, rented in Blytheville, my parents purchased a home in Blytheville and then---Daddy and Mamma purchased two houses from an Urban Renewal Program and had them toted out in the soybean fields; set them just so apart and joined them making two rooms that connecting BINGO a HOME!!!  Now a new problem  what "district" did we belong {what word applies --- preplexing now } Today I still do not know WHAT where that property was called, Half-moon.  Judy Freeman lived with her Aunt, Larry Buck was on my bus route and Johnny Sikes was accoss the cotton field.  When I got off the Gosnell Bus and crossed the wooded bridge, walked infront of their hog/pig pen; my brother and I would stop and used our thorat and tounges to "Oiank" at 'em" then we'd have ta run 'cause man they'd charge @ us!!!
Dell did not have a bus that stop in front of  OUR plot of land we were told.  And the Gosnell bus would only come to the bridge and turn around, but not cross it!!!
After oh, maybe 2 six week terms, we did transfer to Dell School System.
And Gosnell... well ended up were were enrolled!!!
I think one of the cutest memories is the Tiny Post Office in Tomatoe, a Courier News Paper article,  "Post Office size of Out House"  wish I'd cliped that one!!!
Biggest Heart Ache---The Levy  --- My memories   sitting in Circle with everyone; some pickin' guitars, Where have all the flowers gone...how many miles must a man walk befor he can be called a man...;  children sliding down that beautilful levy on cardboard--- and at the end  the trees and a massive one had fallen, I walked accross with a pickinc basket & blanket; had lunch among the cows while watchin' the cow graze....
Yes, I use refuse when told you can never go home...
We had a class reunion for Class reunion of 1975, and they we demoing the gym that Saturday,
Mercy, Mercy me; Lands Sakes Alive, What Can I Say, What Is A Body To Do or Say...."
 Thanks for sharing with us! Love your memories. . . .