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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: