THOMAS A. McSPADDEN STORY

 Thomas A. McSpadden

brother to Mary Ann McSpadden
 
From newspaper article - newspaper and date published unknown. Pioneer McSpadden became something of legend Editor's note: Mr. McSpadden is a resident of Mountain View but is known throughout this area as a craftsman of fine dulcimers and, with his wife Mary Catherine and brother Larry, as owner of The Dulcimer shop. He recently published a pamphlet, "McSpadden Generations," as a result of research into his family history, and agreed to permit the use of some of his material here. By Nancy Britton and Lynn McSpadden


The roots of the McSpaddens of North Arkansas are Scotch-Irish and Cumberland Presbyterian. It was one of their ancestors, the Rev. Samuel McSpadden, who helped found this denomination in Tennessee in the early 19th century. The Arkansas McSpaddens descend from his son, William, who was born in Tennessee in 1818.
William McSpadden married Sarah Birch Stroud, and her family connections probably brought him to Arkansas around 1853. Sarah's brother, O. P. Stroud, had moved to the Barren Fork community (Izard County) a few years earlier. This is now the area around Mount Pleasant. Craig Ogilvie, who has done research on that community, named the McSpaddens as one of the earliest families to settle there. Some information on William's family was obtained from his family Bible, which had been handed down to a descendant, the late Othel McSpadden of Batesville. William and Sarah Stroud Mcspadden had 14 children, the first nine born in Warren County, Tennessee, the rest after they arrived in Arkansas. The children were Thomas Alva, John Dillard, Lucy Rebecca, Samuel M., Mary A., George Acton Steel, General Zachary Taylor, William Theodore, Eulacta C., Sarah Elizabeth, Robert, Amanda Jane, Clementine M. and Martha L. Some of these have local decendants, but only the line of Thomas A. has been traced in this article. Thomas Alva McSpadden was the oldest son of William and Sarah. Born in Tennessee on July 4, 1837, he was about 16 years old when the family moved to Arkansas. Except for a brief absence during the Civil War, he lived the rest of his life in Independence County. McSpadden became something of a legend in Washington Township, in the Bethesda-Campground area, because he was the father of 21 children by this two marriages. The first wife was Temperance Luster. She was the mother of the first 12 children: William, Reuben, Mary Cornelia, Thomas A., Jr., John M., Sarah, Margaret, George washington, David, James King, Minnie and Joseph. The last child, born in 1876, died in infancy.
Temperance McSpadden also died about the same time, and Thomas then married Mary Elizabeth Defriese. They became the parents of nine more children: Mose, Samel Spear, Henry, Hiram, Robert, Louisa, Ewin, Anice and Aaron. Aaron, the last survivor of the children, died in Oklahoma in 1975. By all his children Thomas McSpadden had more than 135 grandchildren. That number was reported in the Batesville Guard in 1916, but others were born later.

Most of them grew up in their grandfather's immediate neighborhood, in the Campground-Bethesda-Harmontown area. One story is told that Thomas had his own communications system in the days before telephones. So
many of his children and grandchildren lived along the road from his house to his White River bottomland that he could ride to the river, look over his crops, then decide what equipment he needed that day. By shouting to the nearest offspring he could count on his message being relayed back by a human yelling chain over a distance of about four miles. McSpadden almost lost one of his sons. One summer afternoon some of the boys of his second family slipped off
to go swimming in White River, which their father had forbidden them to do. One of the boys, Samuel Spear, went under and apparently drowned. His brothers managed to pull him out and put his body across the back of an old mule. Sadly they started home, wondering how to explain their disobedience to their father. But as the mule jogged along the rough road, the bouncing apparently forced the water out of the boy's lungs and worked almost as well as artificial respiration, for the drowning victim was miraculousl restored to life. Tom had so many grandchildren that he thought every child he met around Bethesda was one of them. One day he was riding his big black horse down a lane when he met 13- year-old Joy Fowler, whose family had recently moved into that area. He reined in his horse, smiled down at her and asked, "Now which one of my grandchildren are you?" Joy thought it was funny because she wasn't related to him at all. Later, however, she married his grandson, Lester Calaway, and became his granddaughter after all. "Uncle Tom," as nearly everyone called him-even his grandchildren-did break the family tradition of Cumberland Presbyterianism and became a Methodist. In 1895 he gave part of the land that is now the property of Campground Methodist Church, and many of his descendants have been - and still are - members of that church. McSpadden enlisted in the Confederate 1st Arkansas, in Capt. Rutherford's Co. D., in 1862. According to his obituary, written by Theodore Maxfield in 1924: This company was engaged in outpost and scout duty almost throughout the war. This required brave men and (McSpadden) was always ready for duty and performed it well. He was engaged in the battles of Helena, Little Rock, Marks Mill and others in South Arkansas. He was also with General Price when he made his famous raid into Missouri. During the Missouri campaign McSpadden fought against some of his Missouri cousins. He was paroled, along with most Independence County Confederates, at Jacksonport in 1865. Obviously, the names of all of Thomas McSpadden's local
descendants cannot be included in the article. The oldest is probably George W. McSpadden's daughter, Mrs. Bertha Shaw, now 95 years old and residing in a local nursing home. The marriages and number of offspring of each of the sons and daughters listed below should enable a descendant to find his or her own line. William W., the oldest son, married Sarah Martin, then Elizabeth Brooks. He had 14 children and 12 grandchildren. Reuben married Mary Elizabeth Martin, Then Mary Criswell. He lived in Rotan, Texas, and had a total of 14 children.
Mary Cornelia married Robert "Lance" Leonard, who owned a steam gin and grist mill on Harmon Creek. They had 13 children and 53 grandchildren. Thomas A. Jr. married Mary Catherine Sisco and had six children and 24 grandchildren. John M. married M. E. Hess. No other information available. Sarah married Luther J. Bracy and had 10 children and 30 grandchildren. Margaret married Judge John H. Marshall. They had four children and 10 grandchildren. George W. married Elizabeth Hancock, then Hattie Arizona Love. He had 13 children by the two wives and about 25 grandchildren. (George and Hattie are the grandparents of Lynn McSpadden.)
David married Josephine B. Anderson and had two children and 12 grandchildren.
James King married Sarah M. Martin and had 16 children and 34 grandchildren.

Minnie married Thomas A. Anderson. No further information is available.

Mose married Elizabeth Martin. They had five children and several grandchildren.
Samuel married Stella Kimmer and moved to Oklahoma. They had six children and 18 grandchildren.
Hiram married Maggie Coop or Cook and moved to Oklahoma. They had at least nine children.
Robert married Myrtle Cook. They had two children before his death in 1909 and no known grandchildren.
Ewin married Winnie Ryan and moved to Oklahoma. They had at least four children.
Aaron married Flossie Wright and moved to Oklahoma. They had three children and five grandchildren.
Joseph, Henry, Anice and Louisa died in infancy.
The second wife of Thomas McSpadden, Mary Elizabeth, died in 1913. Eleven years later the old patriarch himself died at the age of 87. Sometime around 1915 he held a big public sale of household goods and farm equipment and began to live with one of his children. McSpadden, both his wives and many other family members are buried in the Campground Cemetery. The original list of the children of Thomas A. McSpadden, currently being updated and corrected by Lynn McSpadden's voluminous correspondence, was provided a number of years ago by the late Malissa Calaway of Batesville, who summed up the compilation with the phrase, "Such a heritage!"


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