Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fox hunting at New York

This post is intended as a finding aid for two Fox family pilgrims, one actual (Pat in Alabama who expects to be in Iowa early next week) and one virtual (Roberta in California, who just might make it back one of these days). Both are descended from Levi Fox Sr., who died in 1877 and who is buried with other family members in the New York Cemetery in northern Wayne County.

As I said, Pat, when you turn east off Highway 14 onto J22 you'll drive three miles east through Millerton (don't blink) to the intersection where New York once was. You'll recognize it because of a planting of young pines in the northeast corner of the crossroads. The New York Road (gravel) turns north here. The road south now is minimum maintenance --- in other words mud and reserved for those of us with four-wheel drive.

Just beyond the pines on the north side of the road is a small sign (top) identifying New York beside the driveway back to a newer house that is the only building here now.

The New York Christian Church (below) used to stand west of this house, some distance north of J22, but don't look for it now because it's up and moved. Nicely restored, it now stands in an enclave of vintage buildings a mile west of Allerton in southwest Wayne County.

I've speculated that the Foxes may have buried at New York because they attended church here. The New York Christian Church, established 1853, was founded at about the time the Foxes arrived. There also was a Methodist Church at New York, but not too much is known about it. Its building dated from 1874, but the building was closed and demolished about 1913 primarily because another Methodist church had been founded in Millerton by that time and the congregations were just too close together.

Anyhow, keep driving east on J22 for about a mile and a half and you'll see the cemetery on the north side of the road, spreading down the hill as you curve slightly southeast to the creek. Turn off onto the gravel drive and follow it through the main gate and up hill into the cemetery, stopping at the crest of the hill a few car lengths before you turn east to follow the U-shaped drive down around the newer and lower part of the cemetery.

Look for a large granite tombstone with the surname "Pray" inscribed on its base. Levi and Sarah are almost due west a couple of rows by themselves in a large open area (I'd like to know why there's so much open space there, but don't).

This photo is taken from the west looking east toward my pickup parked where you should be. The tombstone just to the right and east of of Levi's and Sarah's belongs to Willie Fox. Josiah, Willie and Emeline are here in a row facing west.

The photo below shows Ellen Hutchinson's tombstone, just southwest of Levi and Sarah, in relation to it.

If you'd care to go visit the Clowsers over at Confidence, it's a drive of less than 10 minutes over all paved roads. Drive about five miles father east on J22 to the stop sign (you'll see Sunny Slope Church of Christ at the intersection), then a mile and a half north on S56 to the Confidence Cemetery intersection. You'll want to go into the older part of the cemetery, south of the east-west road leading into Confidence itself. James and Missouri (Fox) Clowser are in the southwest corner. The small headstone to the left of the larger stone marks Missouri's grave and you can see that red pickup again to the northeast parked at the gate. The inscriptions on the main stone are very hard to read unless the light is just right. Missouri and James are on the north side of the stone; A.B. and Nevada, on the south.

Retrace your route back to the New York intersection and turn north on gravel if you want to see the site of the Levi Fox homeplace.

Drive about three and a quarter miles due north and you'll hit the county line crossroads (although it isn't marked as the county line). This photo was taken from that crossroads looking north. Lost Branch Creek has been channeled through culverts under the road at the foot of the hill. The big house you see on the hilltop is the home of Max and Gwendolyn Arnold, built by my great-uncle and great-aunt, Carl and Minnie (Myers) Johnson. The Fox farm was immediately across the road east of the Arnold house.

If you like and its dry, you can turn off east onto the dead-end road that borders the north side of the Fox farm and drive east a ways to get an idea of the lay of the land. Just don't drive down the hill because I expect you'd have to back out and might not enjoy the experience.

This plat dating from the mid-1890s will give you an idea of the lay of the land. The New York Road here divides Sections 27 and 34 in half. The Arnold house is on the 160-acre tract marked "Merrell" in Section 34, indicated by a black dot. The Fox farm, now subdivided in other hands, is immediately across the road.

The 40 acres marked "Thos Gookin" is the portion of the farm inherited by Levi Jr. that reportedly contained the house. As I said earlier, my dad recalled when distant cousins of his lived in a newer house on this farm some distance east of the New York Road, closer to the tree line, entered from the now-dead-end road. That may have been where the Fox buildings had been since it is likely there would have been a well, perhaps even surviving outbuildings there. Nothing now of course.

The 40-acre and 20-acre tracts just to the east, marked A.S. Myers, also were part of the Fox farm as were the 20-acre tract and an additional 20 acres joining the A.S. Myers tract on the south, both parcels marked here as part of the James Parsons farm. The squiggle is Lost Branch Creek. Thomas Gookin was married to Phoebe (Myers) Gookin, my great-grandfather's sister; and A.S. (Abraham) Myers was my great-grandfather's elder brother. Also noted on this map is Clark Gookin, married to Mary (Myers) Gookin, and Chas. W. and Sarah Houck. Mary (Myers) Gookin and Sarah Houk also were sisters of my great-grandfather. James Parsons' wife, Catherine, also was a Myers sister. So you will see that we had the Foxes surrounded!

When Levi and Sarah settled here, this farm site would have represented the best of all worlds --- open prairie to the west and woods (for logs, rails, firewood, etc.) to the east, along Lost Branch.

If you continue north on the New York Road you'll cross the Chariton River bottom,then come to Salem Cemetery just before the BNSF railroad crossing at the "T" intersection with the Blue Grass Road.

Turn left (west) on the Blue Grass and you'll wind about two miles into Chariton. Two things to watch out for if you take this route. The rail crossings are bumpy, so take it slow; and when you get to the stop sign at the southeast corner of Chariton, turn north across the railroad tracks to Highway 34 rather than continuing straight ahead on the Blue Grass. The Union Pacific resolutely refuses to repair the old Blue Grass bridge across the cut where its tracks are, so you cannot drive directly into Chariton on the Blue Grass these days.

And that's about it.


Roger said...

Your site hit because I searched GOOKIN. Then I searched Wayne County New York on Wikipedia and see photos of Fox sisters you may find interesting.

Anonymous said...

Nice article, particularly so,since I grew up here, the plot of land South of the Arnold house and if I read it right the plot of land to the immediate left of your picture with the Arnold house in the distance was part of my Dad's farm, the New York Church was where we went to church,at the time not quite so nice entrance as it has now at its home in Allerton, I must have made a lot ofice cream (the hand crank type) in the vestible of that church for years of ice cream socials sponsored by the Ladies Aid and after one turns left after the tracks, you go by my brother's house, Hwallace

Anonymous said...

Rita said...

This is interesting for me as well. My mother was a Gookin & grew up in that area, as well as my father whish is a Radcliff. History is so much fun!!!