A Story for Mary Jo
Maurice E. Scroggins

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A Story for Mary Jo

Commented version

Scroggins [Kirchner]

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a little cabin way down east in Carolina. Around this cabin was a little garden, in the garden were corn, beans, tomatoes, squash and potatoes. In the cabin lived a little family, this family had only a father and a mother, but no children.

Note: It seems most likely, that the father was Barton Scroggins or Scrogin, who was most likely born in Culpeper County, Virginia, before 1767, and is believed by many researchers to be one of the younger sons of the first Humphrey Scroggin and Margaret Doggett. Barton appears as an adult in a few South Carolina records in the Greenville area around 1787. The only record of a marriage for Barton was a bond at the end of 1797 in Grainger County, Tennessee. Since South Carolina did not record marriages before 1911, he could have been married earlier.

One day the mother said to the father, I wish we could have some children. The father said, I wish we could, too, but our cabin is too small for any more people, and our garden is too small to furnish food for more than two people. Then mother said, maybe you could find a larger cabin with a larger garden; that would gave us more room and more food. The father said I have been looking for a larger cabin with a larger garden, but no one has a larger cabin to rent to us, But perhaps we could find a larger cabin in some other State. Why don't you write to your friends in Georgia and ask them if there are any larger cabins for rent there. So mother wrote to her friends in Georgia and pretty soon got an answer to her letter saying that there were cabins in Georgia, but it was so hot there in summer and so cold and rainy in winter that It would not be a good place to try to raise a family.

Note: During or shortly after 1787, Barton's likely father and brothers, George, Thomas, and Chatten D. all acquired land in the area around Franklin, Wilkes, and later Oglethorpe Counties in Georgia, not far from the Greenville, South Carolina area.

Father said. Well, I know a man in Kentucky. Let's write to him and ask him if there are any larger cabins in Kentucky that we might rent. But when they wrote to the man in Kentucky he said that there were cabins there, but the people were so mean and quarrelsome they were fighting and shooting all the time, so he didn't think the mother and father would want to move over there.

Note: Barton's probable brother, the second and better known Humphrey Scroggin, is recorded in the 1790 census in South Carolina, but was living in Kentucky by the mid1790's, settling with his father-in-law in Bowling Green, Warren County, from before 1800 until around 1811.

Father and mother didn't know what to do. They sat down and thought and thought. Finally father said: Let's write to a man in Tennesseee. I have heard that quite a few families are moving over there. In a couple of weeks, they got a letter from the man in Tennessee. He said there was a lot of good land for gardens, and there were fine forests where father could cut down trees to get logs to make his own cabin, and that father and mother would find it a find place to raise children.

Father got out the cart and hitched the mule to the cart and then put the stove and the dishes and the bed and the bedding and all the rest of the furniture that he could get on to the cart, and said to the mule, "Get going, mule, we are on our way to Tennessee." Because the mule was a big strong mule, and the cart was not too heavy anti because the mule thought, too, that it would be nice to have some children around, laughing, and playing and shouting, he started off very willingly.

And so they went to Tennessee, father and mother and the dog walking, and the mule pulling the cart over hills and across valleys, wading through the little streams and rivers and getting ferried across the big rivers. Sometimes when the hills were very steep father helped by pushing on the cart and sometimes when she got very tired and the road was very smooth and down-hilly mother got on the cart and rode a little while.

Note: Barton first appears in Tennessee militia records from the Hawkins District in 1794 (not far from Knoxville). He is in Grainger County records from 1797 to 1799--Grainger is a mountainous county that was formed from Hawkins in 1796. He took out a bond to marry Dice or Dicey Russell in Grainger County in December 1797.

This father and mother's name was Scroggins, and they were your grandfather's great-grandfather and great-grandmother and your dad's great-great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother and your great- great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-grandmother.

Note: Barton would have been Mary Jo's grandfathers great-great-grandfather. Although that is a generation earlier than the story suggests, it matches what is known about the peole and the historical context.

The Scroggins walked for days and days and weeks and weeks, and the mule pulled their cart for miles and miles and miles until they finally came to Tennessee. Now Tennessee is a long state with high mountains and deep rivers and thick woods and smooth meadows, and lots of farms. But mother Scroggins said, Let's not take just the first farm we come to, let's look around and find one that is really just what we want. So they looked here and they hunted there for the kind of a farm that would be just exactly right. And finally they found a farm that suited them. It was right at the edge of the deep woods. In fact, one end of the farm was in the deep woods. That will be nice, they said, because then we can get the logs to build our house right out of our own farm. And the woods will give us shade in the summer and we will have plenty of wood to burn in the winter to keep us warm. At the edge of the woods, there was a little spring, where cool clean water came right up out of the ground and then ran down the hill through a meadow to make a little creek. Oh, what a nice spring said mother, it will give us good water to drink and for cooking and washing, and the mule and other animals that we are going to get can drink right out of the little creek, Most of the farm was a nice level field. That is good said father for we need a good big field to raise all the food and feed we are going to need for our family. But he said, let's not stand around talking, let's get to work, for we have to get our fields plowed and planted right away if we are not going to starve this winter. He said we will just set up a tent and live in that awhile until we get the planting down, and then we can start building our house. So he put up the tent and took the plow down from the cart and started right in plowing. First he plowed a place for mother plant a garden. While he was plowing the garden, mother took the things off the cart and put them in the tent. Then she took the hoe and smoothed off the garden plot, and marked it off into little lots, each for a different kind of vegetable. First she planted beans, because they grow so fast , and radishes and lettuce because they are so good for you, and potatoes because they mkke you strong, and peas because they taste so good, and rutabagas because everybody likes rutabagas. While mother was planting a garden, father was plowing and plowing and plowing. Then he planted some wheat to make into flour, and some oats to feed the mule and some corn for the pigs. In one corner of the farm, down by the creek, they let the grass go long, so that they could cut it for hay to have feed in the winter for the mule and the cow, for as soon as the plowing and planting were done, father bowht a cow and a couple of pigs and some chickens. Then father began cutting down trees to make logs out of which to build their house. He used the biggest logs for the house, the next largest he made into the barn, and the smallest logs he used in making the chicken house and the pig sty. By the time winter came, they were very comfortable, with plenty of food for themselves and their animals and nice warm places to live, and plenty of room for a nice family of children. One of their children, a boy, they named Anderson Scroggins, and their little girl they named Matilda Scroggins.

Note: By January 1803, Barton had moved west into the area west of Nashville that became Dickson County, Tennessee, an area that is hilly, but not mountainous like the Grainger County area. He is mentioned in records in that area in 1803, 1806, and 1816. It is likely that most of his children were born there.

Although Barton's second son was named Anderson, Mary Jo's grandfather's great-grandfather was most likely Prior Scroggins, who was probably born around 1798 or 1799. Prior had children named Anderson and Matilda. The Matilda referred to in the story was actually Minerva, daughter of Barton, born in Dickson County September 1816.

Anderson Scroggins lived on the farm and helped his mother and father until he was grown up. Then he said, I guess I will go over to Missouri and have a home and a family of my own.

Note: Prior Scroggins apparently left Tennessee sometime after mid-October, 1817, and according to a later county history, he and one or more brothers settled in Madison County, Illinois, in 1818. Prior's son, Anderson, did go to Missouri later.

Matilda Scroggins married a man named Sawyer, and they went to Illinois to live.

Note: Minerva Scroggins, born in Dickson County in 1816, married Daniel B. Sawyer in Macoupin County, Illinois in 1834--the first wedding in Dorchester Township.

In Missouri, Anderson Scroggins settled down in a home near a city called Jefferson Missouri.

Note: Prior died in Alton, Illinois, in 1833. Little is known about the whereabouts of his sons until they enlisted to serve in the Mexican War. Anderson enlisted at Jefferson Barracks, south of St. Louis.

There he married and had a little boy they named Julien Elbert Scroggins. When Julien Elbert Scroggins was still only a little boy, his mother died, and Julien went to live with his father's sister, the girl named Matilda who had married Mr. Sawyer and had gone to Illinois to live.

Note: Anderson married Ellen Gaskill in Bond County, Illinois, in November 1855. Julian Elbert was born September 12, 1856, most likely in northern Madison County or Southern Macoupin County. Ellen died when he was an infant, perhaps during the birth of a child who did not survive. Anderson took him to Kissiah Simmons Scroggins, wife of Anderson's brother William, in the fall of 1857.

Anderson, some of his siblings, and his widowed mother, apparently left by wagon to go to Kansas in late 1859 or 1860. His sister, Malinda, stayed there. It's not clear exactly what happened, but the others apparently returned to Illinois. Anderson married again, probably on the way back, in Cooper County, Missouri, not far from Jefferson, in October 1860.

In 1860, just before Julian Elbert turned 8, Anderson enlisted in the Civil War. It was about that time that "Bert" ran away from his stepmother and went to live with his great-aunt (not his father's sister), Minerva Scroggins Sawyer.

Julien Elbert Scroggins, who usually went by his nickname "Bert," lived with his aunt Matilda in Illinois until he was a grown-up young man. The Sawyers had two sons, one of them named Fred was a few of years older than "Bert" Scroggins. The other one, named Dempsy Sawyer was several years younger than Bert. When Bert was about seventeen years old, Fred Sawyer became sick and the doctor told him be should go to some more healthy country than Illinois, to Minnesota, maybe. But Minnesota was so faraway that Fred Sawyer didn't want to go way up there alone. Bert said "I will go with you." When the two young men came to Minnesota they lived in a little town named Plainview. At Plainview Bert Scroggins learned the painting business. He learned how to make signs, and put stripes on buggies and wagons and to hang wall paper and to paint houses. While Bert was living in Plainview, Minnesota, he met a young lady named Henrietta Emelia Kirchner. Bert Scroggins was your dad's grandfather, and his wife Henrietta was your dad's grandmother and is your grosmutter.

Note: "Bert" appears in the 1880 census for Wabasha County, Minnesota, and probably had been there for a few years. He and Fred Sawyer probably moved north during the early 1870's. Minerva had many children, Dempsey was one of the youngest ones.

Kirchner [Scroggins]

A little more than a hundred years ago there was a nation in Europe called Prussia. Its King was named Frederick Wilhelm. Frederick-Wilhelm had a very fine army. In this army was a regiment of the best looking tallest men in the army. This regiment was called the King's Own. In this regiment was a fine young man named Johann Christof Kirchner. When Johann had finished his term in the army he went back to his home in Erfurt, and there married a young lady who had been waiting for him all the time he was in the army. Her name was Clara Magdalene John.

Note: Johann Christof Kirchner and his wife Clara Magdalene or Magdalene Clara John were researched extensively in the 1960's and 1970's by Ralph Umbreit of Spokane, Washington. He died in 1993 and although the is no evidence that he published his research much of it is reflected in the LDS Church's Ancestral File. The details in the genealogical chart are based on Umbreit's Ancestral File information.

After their first baby was born, a nice little boy, Clara said to her husband, Johann, I don't want our boy to grow up to be a soldier. Let's take him to America where they don't have so many wars. Johann laughed and said It will be quite awhile before they take this boy to be a soldier, but we will see what we can do. And so they began to save their money to get enough to go to America. When Clara's brother William John, and Johann's brother August Kirchner heard that they were saving money for the journey to America they said they wanted to go along too, and they began saving their money, too. Finally Johann and Clara had saved enough money to pay for the trip to America for themselves and their two children, for by now they had a little girl, too, and to buy a farm after they got to the United States. Wilhelm and August said they bad enough money too, for the trip, but Johann said How can you two boys go to America? You have to go to the Army first. For the King took every boy into his army as soon as he became seventeen years old and kept him in the army for six years. But the boys said we don't want to go into the army we want to go to America with Johann and Clara. Then they all talked it over for Clara said, I think we ought to take August and Wilhelm along. They are our brothers and it would be nice to have them with us. After thinking about it and talking about it some more, Johann finally said, I think I have thought of a way to take them, but don't anybody say a word about their going.

Note: Umbreit's information does not identify the two brothers, he apparently stopped once he had submitted information about Johann and Clara. Umbreit shows only a daughter, Susan, as having been born in Germany.

So Johann and Clara said to the King's man, we want to go to America and take our baby boy and baby girl along. The King's man said have you finished your six years in the army. Yes, answered Johann. What are you going to do with your home here asked the King's man. We are going to ship our bedding and dishes and our clothes to America, but we are going to sell our home and our furniture and everything else right here, Johann told him. We would like to take our potatoes into the next country and sell them there. There are plenty of potatoes in Prussia. but there are not so many in the next country and we can get more money for them. We will haul the potatoes to the next country with our team and wagon and sell the potatoes and the horses and the wayon and take the boat for America from the next country. The King's man said I will see if that will be O. K. In a couple weeks, the King's man told Johann that he could go to America and that he could take his potatoes out of Prussia to sell them in the next country. Johann made some strong big wooden boxes into which they put their feather beds and quilts and other bedding, and their clothes and dishes and a few books and some other little things that they didn't want to take along, too. They sold their home in Erfurt and got some gunny sacks for sacking the potatoes. Johann said to August and Wilhelm go ask your parents if you can help us sack our potatoes. The parents said yes they could help, for they had been let in on the secret, but to no one else had Johann told of his plan.

So they sacked potatoes all afternoon and then in the evening when it was beginning to get dark, Clara and Johann loaded the sacks of potatoes onto the wagon and they spread a couple of blankets to make a kind of a little nest on top of the load. Into this nest they put their two babies, then hitched up the horses to the wagon and climbed up onto the seat and started for the edge of Prussia which was quite a long way. It was about the middle of the night when they started and Johann kept hurrying the horses along, stopping only a few times to give the horses something to eat and to drink and to feed the babies and eat a little lunch themselves from the basket they had brought along. Finally at four o clock in the afternoon they reached the end of Prussia. There the King's men who watched to see that no one went out of Prussia who shouldn't go and that no one came into Prussia who shouldn't come in, went up to Johann's wagon and said "Vas hast du hier?" Johann answered "Kartoffel," for all the people in those countries spoke ths German Language. Johann showed the King's men the paper he had saying that he could take his potatoes to the next country to sell. The King's men jabbed their bayonets into a couple of sacks to see if they really were potatoes and then they looked at the paper and told Johann he could go ahead. Johann said "Hup" to the horses and they pulled the wagon right out of Prussia and into the next country. As soon as Johann and Clara and their children were out of Prussia and into the next country, they were free of the King of Prussia and his men and didn't have to take orders from them any longer, but Johann kept telling his horses to hurry up and didn't stop anywhere until night came and it was dark again. Then he stopped the wagon under some trees where it was pitch dark and he and Clara started to pull the sacks of potatoes off the wagon. When they had the load pretty well off, they came to a sack that wiggled a bit. when that sack was untied what do you suppose was in it? It was Wilhelm John, Clara's brother who didn't want to go into the army. As soon as they untied Wilhelm's sack, they picked up another sack that was moving too, and what do you suppose was in that sack? It was August Kirchner, Johann's brother. That was the way Johann planned to get the two young fellows out of Prussia without anyone knowing about it.

The two buys were pretty hungry and thirsty for they had been in the potato sacks all night and. all day without anything to eat or drink. They were pretty sore, too, for every time the old farm wagon bumped along the old dirt road they bumped the bottom of the wagon box and the potato sacks on top of them bumped into them, too, but they didn't complain about that, they were so glad to get out of Prussia and to be on their way to America. As soon as Wilhelm and August had a drink and some lunch and Johann had rested his horses a bit and given them a drink and something to eat and had put the potatoes back onto the wagon again, everybody climbed up on the load and started off to the next town where they could spend the night. The next morning Johann sold his potatoes and his wagon and the horses, and they all got onto the train to go down to the ocean to where the ship was waiting to to take them to America.

Note: Although there is no documentation to support this story, it is quite possible and includes the kinds of details often passed along by work of mouth. Based on the ages of Johann's children, and other evidence, this would most likely have happened about 1849 or 1850. It may be possible to find ship records, but most of the microfilmed arrival records for that time have not been indexed.


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