(Notice to all Owsley, Ousley, and Housley descendants)

Owsley Family Historical Society (OFHS)

Meets Savannah, Georgia, June 4-6, 2020.

"39th Meeting"

Savannah, Georgia, is our destination.  We're meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn Midtown in fabulous Savannah.  On Thursday, June 4th, we begin with early registration from 3 - 5 p.m.  Then it's dinner on your own with cousins and friends--followed by the dessert social at our hotel from 7 - 9 p.m.


Friday morning one may register before meeting begins at 9 a.m.  On both Friday and Saturday mornings we'll have interesting speakers plus sessions of Cousin Sharing where new attendees will share a story about an ancestor or an important discovery.  Once at Macon meeting, Steve Gavigan showed us how to use Find A Grave which opened that world to me. 


One of my most important finds happened when I emailed a DNA match of mine on GEDmatch whose pseudonym was Watauga, the county in North Carolina where my Yeltons came from to Tennessee.  My question was:  are you a Yelton or a Ford?  Ford was the answer.  His ancestress was sister to my Mary Ellen Ford who married Barnett Cash Yelton.  (Sonja Collins' husband and I are kin to Johnny Cash in the Cash family.)


Mr. Watauga and I exchanged family information, and eventually I told him that my third great-grandmother, Mary Ellen, had driven a team of mules across the Oregon Trail "to see what the fuss was about" in her 70's.  Then she drove a team of oxen back to North Carolina.  I hardly believed this story at first, but my Aunt Maybel Ousley, a former teacher who was my third cousin in the Yelton family, and Mickey Yelton, a minister, both verified the story was true.  Then I found Mary Yelton, age 74, in Washington State in the 1880 Federal Census.  She was born in 1805, had no occupation in 1880, so I knew she was my Mary Ellen.


The man in North Carolina asked me if I'd like to know why Mary Ellen really went over the Oregon Trail.  I responded, "Yes, please."  He told me that Mary Ellen's younger brother Nineveh Ford was a leader of the first official wagon train to Oregon in 1843 with the missionary, Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa, and Nineveh's biography was on Find A Grave.  Mary Ellen went over the Trail to visit her brother--and perhaps to see the sights.


Oh, my, what a biography!  Nineveh was first over the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon, settled in Pendleton County, with other farmers destroyed a new mill, and threatened the sheriff with drawn rifle.  The new mill had blocked water from existing farms so those farmers destroyed the mill. When the sheriff came to examine the situation,  Nineveh led farmers with drawn rifles to meet "the law."  Sheriff decided in favor of farmers.


His bio on Find A Grave says he was a three term U.S. Congressman from Oregon.  Nineveh then moved to Walla Walla where he died.  He's buried in the Masonic section of the Mountain View Cemetery there.


In 5th, we studied the Oregon Trail and each built a small Conestoga wagon which we took to the playground and circled the wagons when in danger.  I, of course, then knew the Whitmans had been killed by Cayuse men at their mission in Walla Walla, Washington.


The tale gets even stranger . . . .   In his bio on Findagrave, it said Nineveh was one of pioneer men interviewed by journalist Fred Lockley wrote an editorial column for the Oregon Journal which was widely distributed in the west.  Lockley wrote several books and kept journals on people he interviewed including early pioneers in Oregon. 


The bio went onto say Lockley's journals on early Oregon pioneers were published by Mike Helm of Eugene, Oregon, as Conversations with Pioneer Men--the Lockley Files, by Fred Lockley.  Compiled by Mike Helm.




Now in some neighborhoods, there is one person who thinks he/she is in charge of the neighborhood and is fond of telling everyone else what to do and what not to do.  In my neighborhood, that is Mike Helm.  He hadn't spoken to me for thirty years and played a dirty trick on my best friend here re a property line a few years ago.


Mike lives two houses from me--so I waved him down as he went by my house one day.  He stopped and I asked where I might purchase the book he published on pioneer men as one of my family members was in the book. He said he'd also published Fred Lockley's journals on pioneer women and he'd give me a copy of each book.  Give me a copy!!!  I insisted on purchasing the books, but he GAVE them to me.


So I read about Nineveh Ford and other pioneer men.  Then this really got strange. . . .  In the book on pioneer women, one woman told that as a girl she'd been in the house at the mission with Narcissa Whitman at the time Marcus was being killed in the church.  She said Narcissa told the children in the house to go upstairs.  She instructed the oldest boy to find a broken rifle up there, get it, and stand at top of stairs with the rifle pointed down if any Indian started up the stairs.  While others were killing Narcissa, one Indian started up the stairs, saw the rifle, and went back down.  None of the children were harmed.  I never thought I'd read an eye witness account of what happened that day at Whitman Mission!


The end of this tale is Mike Helm said his family didn't arrive in Oregon until 1847 and I'd beat him by four years.  Didn't mention I arrived here from California in 1984 since Mike now treats me with respect--hmmmm.  So that is one discovery I might have mentioned during Cousin Sharing.


Back to the June program:  on Friday and Saturday afternoons, we'll have excursions and/or time to explore historical Savannah on your own.  We conclude the conference with our Saturday night banquet.


Save the dates, tell your cousins, and plan to join us in historic Savannah June 4 - 6, 2020.  More detailed publicity will be in OFHS April Newsletter and registration packets will be mailed to members in spring.


Sheila Patterson, OFHS Program Director