Monday, January 4, 2016

Walkin' the Floor

Most of my ancestors are from eastern Kentucky.
It is part of Appalachia (apple-atcha).
Though some came from the Tidewater region of both Virginia and North Carolina, most came in through the Philadelphia, PA area, settling in Germantown, before coming down the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with thousands of Germans and Scots-Irish.

And, they are a force to be reckoned with.

My mother used to recount a "legend" to us.  
She said that her father's grandfather, Robert H. Stephens, had his body dug up, and the skeleton hung in Doc Brown's office.  He had assembled the skeleton together to prove he was a doctor.
Others could recall a story where a "hand" floated up to the top of a cauldron of water in the woods near a cemetery, and that Robert Stephens' grave had been dug up.

My line would be as follows:
Ida Stevens --> Corb Stevens --> Richard Stephens --> Robert Stephens

I repeat, these are legends that have been passed down through the family.

One day, while visiting my mother's last living sibling, we got around to the subject of Robert.
I asked him if he thought it was true.
He honestly didn't know.

But, he did say a picture of Robert had been found, and that if I wanted to see it, just go "up the road a piece" to Loreada's house.
If she doesn't answer, just peek through the front door window.  The picture is hanging on the opposite wall.

This is Kentucky.  
It's not wise to go peeking in through someone's window.
But, I thought it was worth the effort, so Mr. Kerry and our four children piled into the van and drove "up the road a piece" to Loreada's.

I told them to wait in the van.
I always do.

I knocked on the door.
There was no answer.
I knocked again.
There was no answer.
So, I gave in and peeked through the door.
And, a set of eyes were peeking right back at me!

I thought I might wake up dead.

Once she focused in on me, she exclaimed, "Law, it's Ida's girl!  Get yourself on in here!!"

As I have mentioned before, things move at a slower speed in the south.
You have to move at that speed, or people may be suspicious of you.

I asked how she knew me, and she said she would have recognized me anywhere, for I looked just like Ida - her childhood playmate and cousin.
And, she looked just like Ida, my mom.

We talked for quite awhile, and she told me about some research she had done on the family.
Then, I asked her about the picture.
She went and got it, and I was absolutely astounded.
Loreada holding the picture of Robert Stephens

Robert's grandson, Corb - my grandfather.

She didn't mind me taking lots of pictures of the picture.  I had an old Vivitar point and shoot, so I carefully laid it outside in natural lighting and took pictures from every angle I could.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, so I had to get it right.

Then, I asked her how in the world she had obtained it.
She said the people up the holler from her had been tearing up their flooring and found it there.
(Note:  Many times, people would use newspapers, magazines, and I guess, photos, to help insulate walls and floors)

Mr. Kerry asked me, "So, were they singing, 'I'm Walkin' the Floor Over You"?
Smart aleck.

Now, the legend of his skeleton will probably remain a mystery.
Although, while visiting my uncle a few years later, he received a phone call asking if he wanted Robert.  I was only half-listening.
He said to hang on, for Peggy's here and I'll ask her.

Someone was cleaning out a closet of an old building downtown and had found pieces of what they thought were a skeleton.
Did I want them?

An emphatic NO.

I have enough skeletons in my closet.
Please, please bury them.
And, let whoever it is rest in peace.