Archive for the ‘Rowland Family’ Category

As we come to the close of October and Ghost Month, I’m leaving you with a little story that still sends a row of goosebumps up my spine.

Christmas Eve was an exciting time for my mother Joan and her brother Eddie.  Even though the family didn’t have a lot of money, somehow their father Robert always managed to find enough for the holiday.  Robert enjoyed spending all day on Christmas Eve shopping in town for his family.   When he arrived at home he was always in jolly good cheer *wink*, after spending the day in the stores and sharing his *cheer* with friends and family along the way.

Robert Rowland

My mother and her brother could hardly contain themselves as they waited for their father to return home every Christmas Eve.  His routine was the same, year after year and he always came home at the same time – just in time for a Christmas Eve supper.  One year, sometime around 1950 they became worried.  Robert didn’t show up.  It was getting later and later – the supper my grandmother spent all day preparing got cold – and Gertrude was about to fetch someone to go looking for him. (more…)

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I’ve written about my great-great grandfather before, but I’ve never really told his story.  I kept waiting to have more of a story to tell, but the man’s origins remain a mystery.

Primative Grist Mill

This is the first chapter in what I hope will be a complete history of Kenzie Rowland and his family.  As I write these chapters, I hope to discover more about the origins of the family and the early life of a man who I have come to idolize.  Not everything written will be completely factual, I’m jumping to some conclusions based on various documents I’ve obtained, clues I’ve gleaned from the few records I can find and from common knowledge about the history and people of the area during his young life.

The most important documents I have are the memories, written down by my cousin Hertha Rowland, great granddaughter of Kenzie Rowland.  Hertha grew up on the Rowland farm surrounded by the love and protection (more…)

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James William Rowland ..1828 – 1859

As I understand it James would be my great grand Uncle. He is the first son of Kinzie Rowland and Esther French Rowland.

James married Susanna Hare, and they had two daughters.  Mary French Rowland and Sarah Louisa Rowland.

Mary French married Creed Terry and proceeded to have a large family.

Sarah Louisa married William Henry Duncan.  She had no children and lived a long life.  She and her husband were still alive in 1930.

Recently the state of West Virginia scanned and placed many of their Will records on line.

I felt very fortunate to find a record for this elusive ancestor!

Last Will and Testament for James W. Rowland

“In the name of God, Amen. I James W. Rowland of the county of Mercer and state of Virginia being of sound mind do make this last Will and Testament.


I desire that all my personal property except such as is provided for, shall so soon as possible after my death, be sold within 12 months and out of the proceeds of the same pay all my debt and funeral expenses.


I give to my wife, Susanna, two of my horses to be selected herself, also two cows to be selected in the same manner. 10 hogs of her choice and all of the sheep if she desires them.  Also, one feather bed and furniture, all of the grain and meat now on hand together with the growing crops as she may wish, also her side-saddle.


I desire that my executor to be hereafter named, sell all of my slaves to wit: Celia, John, (more…)

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This is a repost of a story that was published back in early July.  We have many new subscribers who might like to take a peek at it for our spooky season.

To view the photographs of the people mentioned in this story follow this link:  Rowland Family Photographs

The Pipestem Ghost Comes out of the Closet

  -told by Hertha Rowland

Granddad Bob, Kelly and Baz were working for the Ritter Lumber Company operation at Pipestem to cut a boundary of timber.  The boarding house was near the lumber yard.  I believe Charlie Garten was the person in charge of the boarding house.  The men lived there during the week and many of the men went home on the weekends.

Granddad Bob shared a room with Ed Pastor.  It was in the fall of the year and a very dry season.  When Granddad Bob would be awake at night he would always look out the window to check for fire in the lumber yard.  This particular night, he raised up in bed to look out the window and check for a possible fire.

When he laid down, he was looking toward a closed closet in the corner of the room.  Out of the closet came a woman wearing a dust cap and long gown.  The ghost floated between the beds, passing threw the window.  Granddad Bob said “Ed, did you see that?”  Ed replied “YES” and dived under the covers. 

Granddad Bob wasn’t the only one who witnessed strange events from this particular boarding house.  Basil said you could set your watch by the knocking noise.  Every night at 9pm there would be three knocks in the front of the house, then three knocks in the center and three knocks at the rear.   He described the knocks as if someone had dropped a bag of shelled corn and you could hear the grains of corn sliding down in the bag.

Uncle Kelly and several other men decided they would talk to the ghosts.  They entered one of the empty rooms to (more…)

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Dear Grandpa Kenzie,

It’s me Laurie, your g-g-grandaughter.  I’m the daughter of Joan Rowland Landreth, who was the daughter of your grandson Robert Edgar Rowland, the son of your son Robert Lee Rowland.  Now that we have that straight, let’s get down to business.

I’ve fallen in love with you grandpa – but boy do I have a lot of unanswered questions.  Now I know you probably can’t understand that I was raised a city girl, with all of the luxuries that include air conditioning instead of an ice house, cell phones instead of telegraphs and this marvelous machine called a computer that can spit out all kinds of statistics, county records, land records and even your Civil War records.

I can even connect to the hundreds of descendents you have left behind with the click of a button – don’t even need to buy a stamp.  Even with all of this technology at my disposal, I have learned very little about you.  Many evenings I’ve sat up with you – trying to imagine how your story began.  You only left us a couple of clues, your father was Johnston or Jonathan and your mother was Bettie or Betsy or Elizabeth.  With all respect sir, that just isn’t a lot to go on!

It seems you have a brother and a sister.  We’ve all figured out your brother was James, but who is your sister?  Was she beautiful, spunky, and as tough as it seems you and your brother James were?  Late at night I can feel you urging me on – sometimes you whisper quietly - “Yur almost thar girl” just a keep on a-searching”.   “Granddaughter – you say – thar’s a story to be told about these parts and it’s an exciting one.  (Sorry grandpa – I was raised a city girl and can’t pretend I have that beautiful mountain dialect).  I know you’re urging me on from up there and I just bet my mother put you up to it.  She worried about me a lot you know.  As I understand it – worry is a Rowland trait.  I’ve kind of always had that “frontier” spirit.  Ready to try new things, picking myself up by my boot straps (or in my case my Keen river shoe straps).

I think we were probably a lot a like, except I don’t believe I would want to work as hard as you and grandma Nancy did.  My new water saving push button washing machine takes care of the laundry.  It’s too bad you all didn’t invest in Westinghouse when it was a start-up, course that was just after your time – more your son Robert’s time.  The nice engineers there came up with a machine that washes dishes, compacts my trash, cooks my food – sometimes in seconds and keeps my ice box running even on the hottest days.  Truth be told, Westinghouse even built the nuclear reactor that keeps my husband in work.   Speaking of Nancy, where did she come from?  Can’t trace her at all.  I know she had a sister named Rhodie and possibly a brother named William who lived near you.  It seems the census takers never could get their names spelled the same way more than once.

So, old man – with kindness and affection I’m just going to come out and ask you a few questions:

  • Did you have a family bible if so where’s it hiding?
  • If I go searching the ruins of the structures left on the farm, will it appear in the eaves somewhere?
  • What happened to your first son James who disappeared or died around 1859, leaving a child bride and 2 young girls?
  • Why didn’t you write anything down for us? – I’ve seen your handwriting and it’s tolerable – a little laconic and gruff, but I got the message.
  • I understand from my studies that any confederate who found himself in your vicinity was welcomed into your home for a hot meal and a bed for the night. Didn’t that cause a lot of problems for you with the law?
  • I can’t imagine having entire regiments camped on your farm.  Did they build the customary stick and log cabins – or just use a travel tent?
  • Did you ever have your photograph taken if so where might I find it?
  • What did it feel like to have your last child, Sallie when you were over eighty years old?  Did you get to know her?
  • Why did you change your name from McKenzie to just Kenzie?
  • Where did the name McKenzie come from in the first place?  The other Rowland’s in Virginia during the time named their children James, Robert, Thomas, John.  McKenzie doesn’t fit the pattern – Why did your daddy name you McKenzie? What made you different?  Heck – you, yourself named your first two sons James and Robert.
  • We (the family) assume that James was your brother, but it also looks like you had a sister who was near to you in age.  What was her name?
  • Why did all of your daughters remain single?  You’ll be happy to know that Josie received her college degree and even taught school for a while
  • Was Jonathan Jackson Rowland, husband of Sally Gott, your son or the son of your brother James?
  • The most important question I can ask.  Where did your father and mother come from, was it Chester County, PA as I suspect.  Was your father the Captain Jonathan Rowland who disappeared to North Carolina after the Revolutionary War?
  • Did you leave any DNA behind somewhere or will we have to invent a time machine to come back and pull a bit or hair out of your head.
  • Is there a direct line Rowland left in the family that might not mind getting swabbed (DNA) in the cheek so I can figure out which of the 17th century Rowland lines I should be tracing?

Signed with love, your humble and not quite so obedient G-G Grandaughter,

Laurie Stone

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Once again – Happy Friday!

I don’t know what it’s like where you’re sitting right now, but I believe this is the hottest day of the year so far!

I have the pleasure of a visiting cousin in my house, Richard Ford’s delightful eleven year old daughter Aerin.  Aerin and Paige look like they’ve melted.  As soon as it gets cooler – I’m going to toss them into the bay to swim with the crabs.  The water in the bay is so hot right now – the crabs are cooking themselves.

Lately, I’ve been corresponding with another blogger, Tipper Pressley.  She runs a web site and blog called: The Blind Pig and the Acorn.  It’s a wonderful site about life in Appalachia.  We’ve been writing about our ancestors who fought in the Civil War- some Yankee, most Confederate.   I have a passion for Civil War Research.  I could care less about the battles and who won them, I’m more interested in the men who fought and the women who tried to keep the home front together while they were away.

If anyone has an interesting Civil War story about our family, please email me the details and I’ll put together a profile like the one I’m about to post below.  My email is la.stone@md.metrocast.net.

You might ask… Who is Rufus Rowland and how is he related to us!  I haven’t mentioned Ole Kenzie for a while, in fact I believe the last post about his was another Friday Update back in June, to read that post click here!  Old Kenzie had a brother named James.  James two sons who fought in the Civil War, Rufus and Kinzie.   Kinzie was mentioned in the last message, Rufus hasn’t been talked about very much.

The wife of Rufus, Lynea Hale was a midwife who apparently assisted in almost every birth in the Narrow’s area of Giles County for many years.  The Giles Historic Society believes that Rowland street , right in the center of town, was named after her – not her husband the war hero!  So posted below is the history of our Uncle or Cousin Rufus F. Rowland.

I’m also looking for information on some other Rowland’s from Mercer County.  Jonathan Jackson Rowland – son of James, brother to Kinzie and Rufus.  He married Sally Gott.  I can’t find a record of his death.   James Rowland, died or disappeared around 1859, son of Old Kenzie Rowland and Esther Locke French.   If you know anything about them please drop me a line! la.stone@md.metrocast.net.

To view the Civil War Records, right from National Archives follow this link to Rufus and Kinzie Rowland Documents.

Civil War History – Rufus F. Rowland Confederate States of America (CSA )1st Lieutenant 24th Virginia Infantry Company G. Company G. was formed by the citizens of Mercer County,Virginia

Researched and Written by Laurie Stone -   April 14, 2011

Rufus Rowland enlisted in Company G of the 24th Virginia Infantry during early June of 1861. Company G was formed by a group of men from Mercer County, Virginia (It became West Virginia during 1863). The men gathered in Princeton, and were mustered in at Lynchburg, becoming part of the Army of Northern Virginia. The 24th was under the command of the very colorful Jubal Early who later became the Brigade commander.  Once Early was promoted, the 24th was placed in Kemper’s Brigade, under the direct leadership of Col. William R. Terry. Rufus started his tour of duty as a private and the company quickly entered the front lines on July 1861 at the First Battle of Manassas. In May 1862, the 24th “fought with distinction” during the Battle of Williamsburg. Company G was singled out for particular acts of bravery in action.  During the battle Rufus received a serious wound to his leg.  This almost ended his service, he was even paroled at one point (National Archives), but instead chose to take a two month furlough at home to recover.

He did recover, and was promoted to Sergeant when he returned (National Archives).  His return to duty left very little additional downtime.  During the second half of 1862, the 24th participated in the following battles: Frayser’s Farm, Malvern Hill, the “Seven Days”, Second Manassas, South Mountain, Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg.  The 24th had taken such a hard causality hit, that it was reduced to only 100 men by the end of the year.  They spent the winter on “light” duty in Southeast Virginia while recruitment and realignment efforts were being conducted on their behalf.In the late spring of 1863, the 24th began their journey to Berryville to receive fresh supplies then joined forces with the Army of Northern Virginia heading north towards Gettysburg.

In July of 1863, the 24th Va along with the 1st, 3rd, 7th and 10th were assigned as follows: CSA – Army of Northern Virginia – Longstreet’s Corp -Pickett’s Division -Kemper’s Brigade.

Pickett's Charge

On July 3, 1863, around 1:30 PM during the hottest part of the day, the 24th VA formed the right line of Kemper’s Flank along Seminary Ridge.  The Union was across the field at Cemetery Ridge. The far right side of the flank was the most exposed of all Confederate positions and also left the 24th and the 11th Infantry within firing range of a building, located on the far right side of the flank, occupied by the 11th and 13th regiments from Vermont.  The men moved at “route step” or 110 steps per minute towards the Union line. (Gottfried) The Union army had taken a defensive position on Cemetery Ridge, which is little more than a rise but it was protected by a stone wall.  When the 24th was about half way across the field, they came under intense fire from the Union line and the 24th was also taking fire from the 11th and 13th of Vermont to their right, but they kept advancing.  Pickett’s line was able to reach Cemetery Ridge and break the Union line.

While scholars are very critical of the decisions made by the Regiment commanders for this action, the same scholars who study the Confederate side of the war consider Pickett’s charge to be one of the most heroic and glorious encounters of the battle.

This engagement came with a very high cost for the 24th of Virginia. On the morning of July 3, 1863 there were 395 men attached to the 24th, by the end of the day there were only 165 who were able to return to General Lee’s headquarters at Seminary Hill. The majority were dead, left seriously wounded on the battlefield or taken prisoner.

Such was the fate of Rufus Rowland.  He was seriously wounded by a gun shot to his left leg.  Rufus was taken prisoner at the battlefield on July 3. Official records (National Archives) show he didn’t receive treatment for his wound at an official hospital until July 25.  On July 31, 1863, while still a prisoner, Rufus was sent to Baltimore and received treatment at U.S.A. General Hospital, West Building (National Archives).  Rufus Rowland was paroled on August 24 and delivered , most likely by boat, to Confederate troops during a prisoner exchange at City Point on August 25. He was readmitted to General Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, under Confederate control.

Rufus, for the second time in his civil war career, was given a 50 day furlough to recover from his wounds. At some point, the wound resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee.  The date of the amputation isn’t documented, however a document found in records at the Library of Virginia states that Rufus was permanently disabled by the amputation for the wound he received at Gettysburg.  He requested compensation in the form of a prosthesis or payment.  Rufus received $30.00 as a settlement from the United States Government.

Regardless of when the amputation occurred, it appears that Rufus was unfit for duty until April 30, 1864 when he rejoined his company in Greenville, North Carolina. Still recovering from wounds, he was immediately engaged in battle upon his return. On May 2, 1864 the men from company G began their march north towards Virginia, stopping for two days beginning May 4th to participate in a skirmish with Union troops in New Berne, North Carolina.  From North Carolina, the regiment was able to catch the train to Petersburg however; they were not given any time for respite.  By May 16th, this unit participated in the Battle of Drewey’s Bluff, a Confederate Victory and sorely needed morale booster.  Kemper’s Brigade was able to capture the flag of the Union forces, most likely Rufus was part of the parade of soldiers from the 24th who marched through Richmond on May 17th, displaying the colors of the captured Union Flag (Southern Historical Society).  The 24th spent the rest of the war camped in trenches of Petersburg, mostly near Dunn’s House.Dunn’s House”

Dunn's House

During this time, Rufus was unanimously elected by his company and commanding officers to the position of 2nd Lieutenant (National Archives).  The siege and trench war fare in Petersburg lasted over ten months.

Rufus was once again given a field promotion to 1st Lieutenant on August 10, 1864.  The Fall and Winter of 1864-1865 saw the 24th still engaged in trench warfare however; the Union forces were growing stronger and the Confederate army continued to lose ground to the east and were pushed further south and west.  This unit fought its final battle at Five Forks, where most of the few remaining members were captured or killed and others just deserted.

Rufus Rowland, who was possibly one-legged at the time, was one of only 23 members of the 24th Virginia Infantry who surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.  He was twenty-six years old.  Rufus Rowland and his wife, Lynea raised their family in Giles County Virginia and still have descendents in the area.


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