Gone to Texas


Mom had this intriguing photo stashed away. None of the faces looked familiar, so with trepidation, I turned the photo over. Thank goodness, she had the names on it. Even so, I was still clueless about who these people were. It’s odd how something like this gets handed down, but along the way the stories are lost.

The Robert David McGhee Family

Robert David Mcghee & family 1890s edited

Robert David McGhee family – 1890 – Dallas County TX

About the Photo Above

1890 – Dallas County, Texas

Seated: Robert David McGhee and wife Margaret Bryant. Standing: William Sevier McGhee, sister Annie Mae McGhee (later Meek), and Dudley Johnson McGhee.

About the Photo Below

Then I found a second photo with the same 5 people plus two more. Here are the names for the larger group:

Standing L to R: William Sevier McGhee, Robert David McGhee, Margaret (Bryant) McGhee. Sitting L to R: John R. Carson, Annie May McGhee (later Meeks), Anna (Bryant) Carson, Dudley Johnson McGhee.

Probably the pictures were taken the same day.

Robert David Mcghee & family 1890s

The photo has “Papa” written on the front with an arrow. At one time, it was in the possession of a child of Dudley McGhee. 

How the People in the Photo Relate to Each Other

Having the names was a huge help, so I went to work on Ancestry to figure out how these McGhees in Texas fit with my McGhees in Arkansas. The two women are sisters, Anna and Margaret Bryant. The three children are Margaret and Robert David McGhee’s. John Carson (seated) is married to Anna, so he is Robert and Margaret McGhee’s brother-in-law. 

I found an obituary for Dudley McGhee (the seated boy) which provided an interesting tidbit. He was born in a covered wagon near Little Rock, Arkansas, as the family was moving to Texas. His life spanned from 1881 to 1949. They settled near Kaufman, but later moved to Dallas County.

How the People in the Photos Relate to Us

I found that Robert David McGhee was my 1st cousin 4 times removed, so I guess I can be excused for not knowing of his existence. His father (Robert M McGhee) and my 3x great-grandfather (Soloman McGhee) were brothers. That makes Robert David McGhee a first cousin to my 2x great grandfather (William Newton McGhee). 

robert david mcghee relationship chart

The McGhee Family Movements

The McGhees were in Tennessee in the early 1800s, then in the 1830s in Alabama, and by 1860 had moved to Perry County, Arkansas. Their father, William McGhee, was born in Surry County, Virginia in 1770. Their mother, Leah Ann Broyles, also was born in Virginia, in Culpepper County. They were both a part of the general westward migration. The couple married in Tennessee.

By the time, the family ended up in Arkansas, William had died, but 84-year-old Leah moved along with her sons and daughters. Within one generation, Robert David McGhee moved on to Texas. It took two generations for my branch of the family to leave Arkansas and move to Kansas.

Our ancestors were more mobile than we might think, so it shouldn’t have surprised me that there were relatives in Texas.

(This is week 24 of the 52 Ancestors Challenge. The theme for the week is “Handed Down.”)

C is for CAMPBELL Ancestors

log-cabin-maybe TN pixabay

(photo from Pixabay) A typical cabin of early settlers in Tennessee

Lucinda Jane Campbell married Solomon McGhee on January 26, 1832, in Washington County, Tennessee. This is the eastern end of the state, an area of mountains and valleys. It was first formed in 1777 by settlers from North Carolina and Virginia. Solomon and Lucinda are my 3rd great-grandparents.

Ancestry com - Tennessee Marriage Records 1780-2002 mcghee & campbell

The Campbell Line (unverified)

I need to sift through all the marriage records, early census, and mortality records to verify Lucinda’s parents. I have 32 DNA matches that make it likely that it is John or James Campbell and Catherine Phillips but there seem to be a number of different Campbells with those common first names. A further generation back with 36 DNA matches make her grandparents likely to be John Adams Campbell and Catherine Wilkes. I’d like to track the line to Ireland or Scotland.

The Alabama Years

By 1840, Lucinda and Solomon had moved their young family to Cherokee County, Alabama. The census shows 3 male children in the household below the age of 9. That same year, Solomon’s father, William McGhee died back in Tennessee. (It’s likely the family moved in 1835 or 1836 to Alabama based on the birth dates of their youngest children)

The family kept growing and the 1850 census for the 27th District of Cherokee County shows them with their sons William 17, James 16, John 14, David 9, Robert 7, and Lawson age 1. The first two were born in TN and the next four were born in Alabama. One wonders if there were some children between Robert and Lawson might have died. There’s a McGhee cemetery in Cherokee County with some small stones with names but no dates.

The Arkansas Years

By 1860, the family had moved to Petit Jean, Perry County, Arkansas. Solomon, age 51, is farming. Lucinda is 57 and there’s a domestic in the home, Harriet Robertson. Five of the sons are still at home (ages 25 to 11). Nearby, their oldest son, William and wife Matilda E. live with their 3 young children (Lucinda, Zela, and Solomon) and a domestic, Phebe A.E. Booker. Three-year-old Zela was born in Alabama and one-year-old Solomon was born in Arkansas so we can estimate their arrival in the state as around 1858 or 1859.

“Solomon moved with several McGhee families, Campbells, Kikers, Greens, Smiths, and Tanners into central Arkansas from Alabama in 1858. Most of the McGhee’s settled in Perry County, around Casa, Adona, Perry, and Opelo.” (source) Solomon’s widowed mother moved there along with her adult children.

In November of 1864, Lucinda Jane Campbell McGhee died. In the previous month, her son Robert Witt McGhee died on October 19, 1864. He was in Company C of the 3rd Arkansas Cavalry. I’m presuming that he died at the Battle of Cedar Creek that was also called the Battle of Belle Grove which was fought October 19, 1864 near Strasburg, Virginia. “Confederate Lt. General Jubal Early launched a surprise attack against the encamped army of Union Major General Philip Sheridan.” Over 8,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died there.

Robert was buried at the National Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas. Solomon’s grave is in the McGhee Cemetery in Adona, Perry County, Arkansas. On the reverse of his stone is the name of his second wife, Jane, who died in August 17, 1898. Where Lucinda Jane is buried is unknown. I also checked the Casa Cemetery nearby and Solomon’s mother is buried there but none of the 60 McGhee gravestones were for Lucinda.

Here’s the line of descent:

Lucinda Jane Campbell 1801-1864
3rd great-grandmother
William Newton MCGHEE 1832-1902
Son of Lucinda Jane Campbell
Samuel Newton MCGHEE 1875-1922
Son of William Newton MCGHEE
Clarence Oliver MCGHEE 1895-1973
Son of Samuel Newton MCGHEE
Gail Lee MCGHEE 1924-2013
Daughter of Clarence Oliver MCGHEE

Women’s History Month – Ruth McGhee


My mother wrote this story about her mother winning a writing contest in 1924.

Mother Was a Writer

by Gail Lee Martin

“I was born, 13 September 1924, in Greenwood County Kansas. My folks lived on Star Route, out in the beautiful Flint Hills, near Teterville. Daddy was an oil-field pumper for the Phillips 66 Petroleum Company.

vintage typewriter

A typewriter like Ruth McGhee might have used.

Six months before I was born my Mother, twenty-six-year-old Ruth McGhee, won second place in a writing contest for The Palmer Photoplay Corporation of Hollywood, California.

The contest was put on by the Wichita Beacon in connection with the Palace Theater in Wichita. Mother received fifteen dollars, her returned, typewritten manuscript with the promised critiques and a glowing letter of acceptance.

My sisters and I found out about this after our folks were gone, and it is still a mystery why Mother didn’t write more and in her isolated circumstances where did she find a typewriter?

Her hand-written drafts even show good grammar and are written on ledger style paper. We also found a novel and a short, short story. I don’t recall her ever talking about writing or the contest. When my younger sister was writing short stories for children, I remember Mother was her best supporter.

I was always writing stories in study hall at school, but I never shared my writings with Mother. I never thought anyone would want to read them. I threw them all away, now I wish I hadn’t. Do you Suppose, if I had shared with Mother, we could have been a writing team? It is hard to think of my gentle Mother, who wiped away my childish tears with the corner of her apron, as a writer of “When Dreams Come True.”

Ruth McGhee

Out in those hills Mother cared for a big garden and preserved a lot of the produce for winter meals. She always had lovely flower beds, in spite of the shortage of water. A few years ago I returned to the site of our home on the prairie, where we lived while she was writing for the contest. Just barren plains with abandoned oil wells scattered all around..

Mother had told us about their life there, in an unpainted, ‘shot-gun’, oil field house with no neighbors in sight. My oldest sister was three years old then so when did Mother find time to write? But I certainly can understand her title and hope I helped make her dreams come true with my writing.

teter lease house 1927 mcghee family

In the May 1992 issue of the Kanhistique magazine, my story, “My Mother Was a Writer in 1924” was published and I received fifteen dollars for my Mother’s Day story. Do my genes from my mother make me want to write? It doesn’t matter, I just love to write.”


2008-08-17 gail and ks photos 164

Women’s History Month – Ludie McGhee Evans


I joined a group on Facebook that focused on Perry County, Arkansas history. After sharing a few photos, I found some distant cousins in the group. They were able to help me fill in some gaps.

Ludie McGhee Evans

Ludy or Ludie McGhee married Charles Henry Evans on March 2, 1917, in Perry County, Arkansas. She is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. Her grandfather, David Wesley McGhee, was a younger brother of my great-grandfather, Samuel Newton McGhee. Sam ended up moving to Kansas, but most of the McGhees stayed in Arkansas.

She died in 1931 at the young age of 30, leaving three young children behind. Their names were Alvis, Lorene, and Dorothy. Her husband remarried later that year to Margie Thomas and they had four children.

I have a hard time with the McGhees and Evans as they had large families and tended to mix and match the names.

My Sharing in the Facebook Group

ludie mcghee from Perry county on Facebook

Charles Evans and wife Ludie McGhee and their son Alvin.

I’m trying to feature a woman from my family tree every day in March for Women’s History Month. Most of them are not famous in any way. In many cases, I have limited information, but perhaps another researcher will find them and share what they know.

Bertha McGhee and Her Fellow College Students


At age 37, Bertha McGhee was attending college and living in Fisk Hall with other women students. This was in Kansas City, Missouri. On the census in 1940, it says Fisk Hall – Home & School For Deaconesses and Missionaries. The official name of the school that started in 1909 was Kansas City National Training School for Deaconesses and Missionaries.

KC - NTS 1940 Bertha McGhee (2)

Bertha McGhee is the one with her hand on the shoulder of the lady in the flowered dress. (cropped from the larger photo below)

KC - NTS 1940 Bertha McGhee

1940 – National Training School for Christian Workers in Kansas City.

Besides students, the Dean of Women, the registrar, some teachers, a secretary, a deaconess, a dietitian and an assistant dietitian, a housekeeper, an office assistant, and a librarian shared the housing. Bertha was the oldest student and Esther Beaman was the youngest at 20 in Fisk Hall.

Household Members at Fisk Hall:

Name Age
Cloyd V Gustafson 43
Dagny B Gustafson 44
Ruth E Decker 41
B Eureath White 29
Dale Clarissa Kuler 42
Mary F Smith 57
Martha M Hanson 50
Grace Hutchinson 63
Aletta M Garreston 66
Louise E Dutcher 31
Ellen E Smith 43
Elizabeth Hartman 51
Grace A Vause 39
Minnie Pike 61
Pearle W Tibbetts 52
Mary Blasckko 51
Bertha Cowles 56
Hazel May Gilmore 39
Anna C Altmanna 59
Anna R Barman 47
Nettie M Judd 67
Marion C Cannady 32
Eletha M Rogers 29
Laura E Byers 24
Ruth Gish 32
Esther Beaman 20
Eunice Stockton 32
Bertha McGhee 37
Reva I McNabb 31

NTS graduation bertha 1940NTS graduation program bertha

Bertha’s Earlier College Experience

Bertha McGhee

The back of the photo says “arriving in Baldwin, 1st time” She worked for her room at Miss Bennet’s place.

This photo was prior to her college experience in Kansas City. It would be from when she first started at Baker University in the 1920s. I’m guessing that Bertha is the young woman with the pole behind her. She graduated in 1929 with a BS degree.

After getting her degree, she went to work in Farmington, New Mexico at the Methodist school for Indian children. She left there for health reasons.

After completing her missionary training at NTS in Kansas City, Bertha went to Seward, Alaska to work at the Jesse Lee Home.

This post was inspired by this Sepia Saturday photo. You can see what other bloggers created in response to this image at Sepia Saturday.

Sepia Saturday Prompt Image 502 : 11 January 2020

Reunion – 71 Years Ago


Seventy-one years ago in July, the McGhee family gathered for a reunion. Thank goodness, someone labeled the photos or I never would have figured out the people in this photo.

1948 mcghee reunion ruth dora

July 1948 – McGhee family reunion

Even with the names, I’m hard put to match them up. I’ll have to put our Facebook cousins group to work figuring out this one.

The casual pose captures the relaxed camaraderie of siblings and their offspring gathered together.  Boards resting on barrels serve as tables with a checked table cloth to dress them up. The glass pitcher is probably filled with freshly-squeezed lemonade. The plate on the grass appears to have sandwiches on it. I’m sure there was fried chicken, potato salad, and baked beans too.

1948 mcghee reunion1948 mcghee reunion 2

The women are wearing dresses and the men have slacks and long-sleeved shirts. This is probably Kansas and therefore quite hot in July. It was a more formal time and the attire is what was appropriate in that era for a special picnic with the extended family.

Chairs were brought out from the house and impromptu seating concocted as well. Blankets were spread on the ground under the shade of a big tree.

1946 Reunion

Two years earlier, this 1946 reunion photo captures some of the McGhees. Neatly lined up, the names are more readily attachable to individuals. Left to right: Treva Mae Davidson, Viola McGhee (back), Frances McGhee, Nita Cleo Davidson, Melba McGhee (back), Viola Matilda Tower McGhee, Roy McGhee (back), Bertha McGhee.

Treva Mae, Viola, Frances, Nita Cleo, Melba, Viola Matilda, Roy, Bertha; 1946.

1946 McGhee Reunion

Although not as candid, it does give us a better view of people’s faces.

Let this be a reminder to us as we gather with family this summer. Take lots of photos and label them with names and dates. Future generations will appreciate your effort.

2000-03-01 gail martin celebration of life 001

1946 McGhee Reunion

Jesse’s Car Business


The hint this week for Sepia Saturday showed some vintage cars parked outside a courthouse. I’ll show you the photo that it brought to mind first and at the end, the inspiration picture.

As you can see in my photo, the auto is parked outside an early service center called the Liberty Garage.


Early auto in Morgan, Texas at the Liberty Garage

What we know about this photo:

  • The Liberty Garage was in Morgan, Texas.  Nowadays, you’d cruise down I-35W from Fort Worth, then across to Morgan in Bosque County. It’s 40 miles west of Waco.
  • Only 490 people live there now, and it was only slightly larger back in the 1920s. It peaked around 1900 at a population of 850 and started its downward slide after that.
  • From our family letters, we can place the photo as being around 1919 to 1922.
  • The garage seems to have taken over an existing storefront and the canopy partly obscures the previous name. I’m wondering if that old name might have been “Orient?” The word under that is too long to be cafe or store, but none of my searches turned up a list of stores in long-ago Morgan.

How it relates to our family:

  • Our great-aunt Bertha McGhee wrote, “There were six children still at home when Papa was killed.   Elmer had died the year before and Clarence was married and Jesse was in Tex. with Aunt Alice’s family–working as a mechanic.   Clarence and family lived on the oil lease where papa was killed and Roy was working with Papa at the time.”   “Papa” (Samuel Newton McGhee) was killed October 28, 1922.
  • Another tidbit from Bertha, “Jesse went to Texas soon after he took the automotive course in K.C.   In 1919, I think.   I know he was there the summer of ’19 when Papa was gone those months having suffered amnesia after being beaten and robbed.   I was 16 and Roy was the oldest one at home.   Clarence had got home from Overseas and was working for Phillips in Okla. south of Caney–his first job with Phillips–if my memory is correct.”
  • Our second cousin 1x removed, Helen Ruth Johnson wrote that her mother, Helen Newton Morris, and our Jesse McGhee had a couple of businesses together when he lived in Morgan, Texas; the first business was the Liberty Garage.   Helen sent a Liberty Garage paper signed by Jesse, as well as a photo of the garage to my sister.

Here’s the Sepia Saturday inspiration photo:

Seized Vehicles (1942) Vancouver Public Library : Sepia Saturday 477

Further Photos of Jesse McGhee During This Time


Jesse McGhee with cousin Helen Newton and a friend


Jesse McGhee and a friend


Helen Newton Morris with Jesse McGhee (early 1920s)

Jesse McGhee

Jesse McGhee – not sure of the date on this or the lady. If this is later, it could be back in Kansas and this might be his first wife.

I turned to the 1920 census to see what kinds of businesses and workers there were in the town of Morgan. I previously had not found Jesse in 1920, but there he was in the household of S.L. and Minnie Leigon. He was noted as being a cousin and they misspelled his last name as McGheehee.

His age was 21 and his work was mechanic at Country Engine. So, it must have been after the January 1920 census that he and his cousin opened the Liberty Garage. He was not the only one working on cars. Three other men were listed as working at various garages.

List of Businesses and Workers in Morgan, Texas in 1920

  • Grain buyer
  • Real estate
  • Keeper – boarding house
  • Proprietor – hotel
  • Lineman – telephone
  • Farmers (lots of farmers)
  • Superintendent – public school
  • Dentist
  • Cashier – bank
  • Accountant – bank
  • 2 Physicians
  • Plumber
  • Shoemaker
  • Telegraph operator – railroad
  • Druggist
  • 4 Baptist ministers
  • 3 Merchants – grocery store
  • Merchant – dry goods
  • Meat market
  • Lumber
  • Editor – town paper
  • Postmaster
  • Mail deliverer
  • Cook – restaurant
  • Well driller
  • Electrician – light company
  • Tailor shop
  • Carpenter – house
  • Proprietor – garage
  • Dressmaker – at home
  • Salesman – grocery
  • Traveling salesman – grocery
  • Washerwoman (there were a number of these. One was the wife of a Baptist minister)
  • Clerk – oil company
  • Cook – private family
  • Salesman – dry goods
  • Proprietor – jewelry store
  • Oil company bookkeeper
  • Laborer – public roads
  • Retail merchant – drugs
  • Proprietor – furniture
  • Cook – hotel
  • Laborer – waterworks
  • 3 Blacksmiths
  • Laborers – cotton gin
  • Barber

There were a few teachers for the public school (Adell Majors, Minnie and Bertha Starr) and three high school teachers (Gertrude Crow, Mattie Hall, Ana Harrell).  Quite a few people worked for two railroads (the MK&T and the GC&SF). They included clerks, section hands,



Fishing Photo – Sepia Saturday


The challenge this Saturday is to choose a vintage photo from our family album that relates in some way to the photo below. I’ll have to think about this. Which element sparks a memory of a photo we have. Boat, fish, boy sitting on rocks, a young man with a fishing pole?

Fishing, Old Weir, Killarney : National Library of Ireland (Sepia Saturday 476)

There’s not a lot of water out on the Kansas prairies where generations of my ancestors lived. My family album did include this picture of my grandparents, their daughter Carol Jean, and a high school friend of hers. They are boating on the Cottonwood River.


Mother Daddy on cottonwood River boat

I’m thinking this must be the early 1950s. The white shirts and rolled up jeans were probably the teen attire of that time. Her father, Clarence McGhee, has the oars and her mother, Ruth McGhee has the seat at the back.

The river looks high with the trees or bushes on the opposite bank in the water. May have had some recent heavy rains.

My mother wrote about the family’s camping excursions along the Cottonwood. They would catch lots of fish and pick wild berries. You can read more about it here ‘Gone Fishing’ on the Cottonwood River.

Taking a Break (Sepia Saturday)


I’m trying out a challenge to get myself to post more family pictures. Sepia Saturday posts a vintage photo each week and asks bloggers to find one in their own family albums that relates to the theme.

Their photo triggered me to look for boys taking a break, boys wearing hats, etc.

Bleach Room Boys (Sepia Saturday 475)

I found one that relates to the theme and it includes my grandfather, Clarence McGhee. It’s not the same kind of hats as the boys by the mill building are wearing but close enough.

In my photo, these small-town Kansas boys are wearing broad-brimmed hats suitable for the hot sun of a prairie summer. Even so, they are squinting into the sun as the photo is taken. Clarence is the shortest boy in the back.

Clarence McGhee_boy in back_Tyro brick_edited-1

Although he worked at the glass plant in Tyro, I think he looks too young here for that. I don’t think this is a work break. Some of the boys are even younger and barefooted. Probably this is one of their backyards and that’s a garden shed or even an outhouse.

They could have been pulling weeds in the garden or performing other chores expected of boys in 1910 – 1915. Did you see the baby bunnies that the one boy has? I’m not sure if the other boy has rabbits or maybe chicks.

You can take a look at what other bloggers posted for this theme. Lots of fun old photos.

Vintage Road Trip


Many of the family branches were more homebodies, but there were some rare road trips and although we have the photos, many of the details are lost to memory. Maybe by posting about them here, we’ll hear from cousins with some remnants of family stories.

McGhee – Road Trip

Jesse McGhee making tire repairs on the way home from Hole in the Rock.

Thank you, Mom, for labeling this one. Jesse McGhee with a bevy of females and a vintage car. Would this be 1920 (shorter dresses) or earlier with the girls being young enough to show their legs? It’s hard to see enough of the car to put a year on that. There’s another fellow in the background but I can’t guess who it is.


This postcard from 1912 shows that the Hole in the Rock near Baldwin, Kansas was an attraction back then. I found an article that gives the early history of the site from Santa Fe Trail days when pioneers would stop there and up to current times when it was threatened by highway development.

Vining – Road Trip

My grandmother, Ruth Vining McGhee, and some of her siblings took a road trip in the 1950s from Kansas back to their old home place. I’d seen the photos over the years but now as I work on the family history, I know where the home place was in Woodward County, Oklahoma.

I believe that they are standing by a hand-dug well and then later they stopped to see Will Roger’s memorial. They took along Ruth’s granddaughter, Susan Martin. The other people in the photos are Ruth’s brother, Albert Vining and his wife Vina (Melvina Tower). Maybe someone will give me the name of Ruth’s sister to go with these photos. Is it Lucy with them?

Here’s the old home place, but I doubt that any of the structure remained to be seen.

vining house woodward oklahoma

The sod house with a frame house attached.

I’m rummaging around for one more picture that goes with these. It shows Albert and Ruth standing by a car.

In the meantime, here’s Ruth McGhee with her sister, Lucy, for purposes of comparison with the photo above. This photo is not from the road trip but must have been another visit by Ruth to see her sister, Lucy Vining Bolte, who lived in Winfield, Kansas.

carol - my mother Ruth, with Aunt Lucy at Lucy's house.