Cordelia May Ice

She was born on Sunday, the 28th of May, 1854 in Doddridge Co., [West] Virginia.  She died on a Tuesday 17 November, 1863 at the age of nine years.  Cordelia is buried directly in front of the front door of Center Point Christian Church.  The straightforward white frame church is typical of the time and region but is not the building she knew…not the same one in which her father was ordained an elder and her brother served as a leader and in which her nephew learned to preach… but it sits atop the site of the one she knew.  The church Cordelia knew was of hewn logs; this one has cheap siding over wooden clapboards.  Inside this plastic-clad church is a bronze plaque with her father’s name on it.  Other names include the other founding families.  Outside, with Cordelia, lie their mortal remains.

Her father, Isaac, and brother Andrew, were in November 1863, I believe, at Harper’s Ferry.  They were musicians in the 6th West Virginia Infantry (Union).   Who knows if word reached them of her illness?  For that matter who even knows whether she was ill?Were they able to obtain leave to bury their daughter and sister?  Good questions; no answers.

In 1896 Cordelia’s mother Elizabeth was buried beside her. Elizabeth has a stately tall marker. She was buried between her two children who preceded her in death: Cordelia on the left and Andrew on the right.   In 1882 the mortal remains of Cordelia’s older brother, Andrew Jackson Ice were placed in a grave in front of Center Point Christian Church.  A. J. succumbed to appendicitis, leaving six sons under the age of twelve.  The fourth son, Kromer, is my great-grandfather.  Isaac Ice is buried on the other side of Andrew.   He died 11 June 1905.  Daughter, mother, son, father.  Such is Ice Row.

In April 2010 I visited Center Point.  One reason for the visit was to locate her grave.  The morning was still and quiet.  Clear weather, cool steady breeze under blue skies.  The morning air was damp. There was enough winter left in the air to remind you that you weren’t quite into spring yet.  The spring growth was some ways behind Middle Tennessee: much of the vegetation was brown, crunchy, dormant.  And there was enough of spring in the air and green shoots here and there to let you know that life was around the corner.  A perfect metaphor for a day in the cemetery.

I spent a good deal of my morning in the oldest part of the cemetery among the field-stone-marked graves.  Only a couple had initials scratched deeply upon them; none bore CMI.  Their identities are now completely lost if ever they had initials.  Like the corpses absorbed by the earth beneath them, time’s long years eroded both name and memory. Whoever they are they were the early white settlers in this area, or at least the first to die and receive proper burial.  Their lives intersected in some way with the lives of my distant family; whoever they are they were involved in the life of the community and for all I know they planted and watered a congregation in which my family later served and worshiped and ministered.  They are important to me whoever they are.  I’ll never know.  And that was a strange feeling to face since I came all this way for answers.

I walked up high, to the top of the hill–Allen’s Hill– right up to the tree line and sat down in the crunchy grass to snap a few photos.  Many graves were early 20th century, some were recent, and one was fresh, but where is Cordelia?  The records I had at hand clearly stated she is buried in the Center Point cemetery, and the record provided birth and death dates.  Is she among those whose identities have been lost to time?  I fixed my attention on the fresh, maybe-only-a-couple-weeks old, grave in the middle distance.  If I were digging a grave in 1863 where would it be?

I tried to imagine the scene in 1863 from my vantage point up on the side of Allen’s hill.  It makes best sense that the family rests together.  This is Appalachian culture and for all the fierce independence shot through this time and place and people, there is also a mighty fierce interdependence.  Most families in this cemetery are buried together or as close as seems practical.  Where they seem separated in a few cases can be explained by intermarriage or feuds or both or neither.

In 1863 there were far, far fewer graves and the likelihood that the Ice’s are together moves me back down the hill.  I examine each of the identified graves, the old ones, the 19th century ones.  I find the Ice’s easily enough, the ones I saw on my 1998 trip.  No Cordelia.  A second time, each stone, front, back all sides…headstones and footstones.  No Cordelia. A third time…nope.  Frustrated, I walk down to the small covered bridge.  Walk over it, over the creek, an take a right up that hollow a mile or two or three, and you’ll get to the old Ice land.  I didn’t know that then.  I guess I’ll have to go back someday.

Back to the cemetery, I sit down again, this time in front of Isaac’s tall monument.  He was an elder at Center Point Christian Church, a patriarch in one of the founding families.  He was an elder at the time of her death, or so the record seems.  There is no good reason why she is not here!  

On my hands and knees with a screwdriver from the small tool kit I kept in the trunk, I probe the grass for flat headstones. And there she was.

Next to Elizabeth, covered in grass and dirt, was a small stone.  Looks to me like it fell backward years ago.  I cleared the earth and grass so visitors will know she is there.   My hands a sandy brown, I cleared and scraped and pulled weeds and thought of my three girls in Middle Tennessee.  In 2010 the girls were eight, five and two.  Zach was nowhere in our consciousness, and neither was Texas.  I didn’t set the stone upright, but I cleaned and cleared and at least made it visible again.

Maybe Isaac and AJ heard about Cordelia’s illness and were granted brief leave to rush home for a few days.  There wasn’t much for a musician to do at Harper’s Ferry anyhow.  It appears they spent most of the time watching and waiting for action that never happened.  Perhaps she died suddenly, unexpectedly, quickly.  Perhaps they learned of her death some days or even weeks after the fact.  Perhaps they made it in time to bury her.  Or they, like, me, walked up the hill and looked for her, not knowing where they might find her.  There is no doubt Isaac stood where I stood, looking down at the grave of his daughter, his only daughter.

At least now anyone who walks along Ice row will see Cordelia’s stone.  Center Point is a tiny village, the sort of place you get lost trying to find, or get lost trying to find your way from.  I bet in the last two years the only person to have seen her grave is the fellow who cuts the grass.  I hope he notices her, for every little girl who dies at the age of nine deserves at least a legible headstone, in a visible place, in hopes that someone will see, and pause a moment, be it ever so brief.  I hope he sees her stone and goes home to his family a happy and thankful man and I hope he counts every blessing he has.

God rest you, Cordelia.  We will meet in the resurrection!

Ice row: L-R, Cordelia, Elizabeth, Andrew, Isaac.  Nearby, in front of the church, is George Washington Ice and William Waitman Ice.  George is Isaac’s brother and William is Isaac’s other son.

Cordelia’s marker reads:

CORDELIA

DAU OF I & E ICE

BORN

MAY 28, 1854

DIED

NOV. 17, 1863

—-

Our darling one

hath gone before

To greet us on that

blissful shore.

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Go-To-Sunday-School-Day, Hendersonville, TN, 1917

Postal card, 3.5 x 5 inches, advertising Tennessee Governor Thomas Clarke Rye‘s, “Go-To-Sunday-School-Day.”

This item is witness to a day past when Hendersonville’s three churches (known now, respectively, as First Presbyterian ChurchHendersonville Church of Christ, and First United Methodist Church; First Baptist Church was established in 1944) cooperated in a drive to motivate the villagers to “join, or attend the Sunday School of [their] choice.”  That very likely wouldn’t happen today; another thing that wouldn’t happen is a Tennessee governor launching a ‘Go-To-Sunday-School-Day’ drive for Easter Sunday.  Be that as it may, it happened, as this little card evinces.

The Christian Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee in 1917 was a congregation of several dozen members (Hendersonville was not then much more than a village…maybe 300 residents or so).  Sara Elizabeth Roberts had not been born, but her parents and siblings were members at the Christian Church.  James Alexander Harding drove his buggy from Nashville on April 3, 1893 to hold a tent meeting in Hendersonville.   His was not the first Restorationist preaching in Hendersonville, but the results proved to be the longest lasting. It was Easter Sunday and about a dozen memebrs covenanted to establish a congregation which yet meets not a half-mile from where Harding pitched his tent.  The worship on Easter Sunday 1893 was acapella, as it was on April 8, 1917, and remains so to this very day.  At some point in the 1920s the congregation began to consistently use ‘Church of Christ’ to distinguish itself from those Christian Churches using instruments and supporting missionary societies.  The nearest such, so-called digressive, congregation was along Gallatin Road across the county line nearer Nashville.  Further in, at East Nashville, were Seveneenth Street and Woodland Street Christian Churches.  Vine Street Christian Church was still downtown in 1917.   But in 1917 this acapella congregationally autonomous and independnet congregation threw in with Presbyterians and Methodists to get folk in Sunday School.  Of course they did, they were basically family in the village then, and all the children rotated among the various special church events.  The adults did, too, particularly at revivals or gospel meetings as the case may have been.  At some in that same general time frame the Christian Church at Hendersonville discontinued Christmas programs for the children.

By the time of Sara Roberts’ childhood in the late 1920’s and early 30’s young men from David Lipscomb College, students and some faculty, held forth from the Hendersonville pulpit.  She did not attend DLC though she did complete the tenth grade at the little grammar school in Hendersonville.  They did not award diplomae for completing the tenth grade; no matter, she eventually completed her GED–after retirement–under the tutelage of her daughter, my mother, who did go to DLC. My youngest daughter, Sara, is named for her great-grandmother.

McGarvey C. Ice, Harding College 1929

Rendering printed texts generally, and photographic images in particular, into a digital form provides wide access to all sorts of wonderful things.  Colleges and universities, including my employer, undertake these projects with institutional publications like yearbooks, campus programs and other documents.  Not only are these ventures a service to the alumni, they are a great boon to genealogists.

One example is how I know that my grandfather spent some time in the late 1920’s at Harding College, then in Morrilton, Arkansas.  Graduating high school a year early, he then spent two years at Christian Normal Institute in Grayson, Kentucky and completed what would be today an associates’ degree in 1928.  I know he took courses at Harding and at Cedarville College in Ohio.  By the early 1930’s he was teaching high school science and coaching basketball in Vinton, Ohio.  Later he would pursue graduate study at The Ohio State University, National College of Audiometry and others.  But Harding intrigued me, and seeking to learn more, I discovered that Brackett Library at Harding University has scanned many bulletins and yearbooks, plus oral histories and more, dating back to the early days in Morrilton.

I find in the 1929 Petit Jean that McGarvey C. Ice took more than a few courses at Harding.  It appears that he graduated with a B.A. in Science in 1929.

MC Ice Harding College 1929

Look for him here, fourth row, center:

Harding College Senior Class 1929

If a Harding yearbook was among his effects I do not recall seeing it, and thought that he only took a few courses at Harding one summer.  Seeing these, though, it appears to me that he spent more time at Harding than I previously knew.  A new discovery opens more doors, raises more questions, suggests new avenues and horizons.

 

Which Church Did Christ Build?: A Tract by John T. Hinds

While I’m thinking about McMechen, I thought I’d post this tract by John T. Hinds.   I think it a fair assumption, based on his post-script, that the handwriting on the envelope (the inked address) is Hinds’.  K. C. Ice’s hand pencilled the tract’s title on the end of the envelope, as was his preference, for his system of storage and retreival (whatever that was and however it worked for him).  If I’m right then this tract pre-dates 1912, as do the other leaflets Hinds mentions in the postscript.

K. C. Ice at McMechen Christian Church, McMechen, WV 1911-1912

In late 1911 Kromer C. Ice, aged 35 and one-half years, began his second stint as pastor at the Christian Church in McMechen, West Virginia. He served McMechen from July 1907 to May 1908, just after graduating from Bethany College as the only student in the Master of Philosophy course, but prior to his marriage to Rosa Birdie Sandidge. By 1911, not only was he married, but they had a toddler. Their son, McGarvey, turned two in October. The Ice’s came back to West Virginia from Powersville, Missouri where KC practiced medicine for a little over one year. Returing to their native West Virginia, they were again close to home and family. What led them to leave is as mysterious as what brought them back.

Kromer kept a skeletal diary of his ministry, recording the amount of his monthly support and the topics, text and titles of sermons preached, and occasional notations of pastoral ministry. Browse the scans and you will see restorations, baptisms and a wedding or funeral or two.  As I sift what sermon manuscripts reamin from his years of ministry I might find matches to the list of sermons below.  Until then his list will perhaps prove helpful in gaining some insight into how, in the life of one preacher at one church, the text shaped a congregation.

He preserved this account, consisting of about a half-dozen smallish ledger book leaves, held tight by a solitary rusted paper clip, in an envelope marked only ‘McMechen Church Acct.’  Though it is all I have of the McMechen years, it is evidently more than exists anywhere about any of the early McMechen years, period.  I post these pages here in hopes that someday someone from McMechen searching for an ancestor might find something.  Knowing what it is to search, I’ll do whatever I can to assist fellow seekers.

As I scrutinize his diary I see one fascinating connection…concerning Mrs. J. W. Seibert and John C. Seibert.  On 14 April 1912 one Mrs. J. W. Seibert was “fellowshiped in the cong.[regation].”  That evening John C. Seibert was “received by confession and baptism.”  The following week presumably the same John C. Seibert was “fellowshiped.”  I find in Preachers of Today, A Book of Brief Biographical Sketches And Pictures of Living Gospel Preachers (Batsell Barrett Baxter and M. Norvel Young, eds.) 1952, on page 311 in the entry for Charles Austin Siburt this note:

Reared in Christian Church.  Family led out of it through personal work of C. D. Plum and debate on Instrumental Music by Foy E. Wallace and Sam P. Jones in Moundsville, W. Va.  This year, had opportunity to preach convictions in First Christian Church in Jackson.”

Siburt provides his place of birth as McMechen, W. Va. and date of birth as 17 January 1914.  Charles Austin was baptized by Edgar Roy Saum in 1926.  In the next volume of Preachers of Today (vol. 2, pp. 400-401) Siburt further indicates his father served as an elder in the Christian Church, but was “converted through debate held by Foy E. Wallace, Jr.”

That Edgar Roy Saum appears twice in the index to Christian Standard indicates to me that in 1926 the Siburt family was still worshipping and serving among the Christian Churches, very likely still in the river town of McMechen, West Virginia.  For this reason I conclude the Siburt ‘conversion’ occurred sometime after 1926.  Charles Austin Siburt does not mention, though, that he was ever ‘re-baptized.’  I suspect then that his ‘conversion’ was limited to changed convictions about the propriety of instrumental music.  Charles Austin Siburt’s son, Charles Austin, Jr. preached for many years and taught at Abilene Christian University.  Though I never met Charles, I find our connection in history fascinating and wish we could have connected before his death.  It appears my great-grandfather baptized his grandparents (?) and I would like to think helped set them on a path of service among the McMechen church long after his (KCI) ministry came to a close.  Through their faith, then, a son and grandson embraced preaching and teaching and through them God only knows how many lives have been touched.  I’m assuming that ‘Seibert’ and ‘Siburt’ are one and the same…I think it is at least plausible, if not probable.

I should like to learn more.  If so, I’ll post it to this blog.

Ice Family Portrait, ca. 1915

Kromer Columbus Ice holding daughter Areta (b. 1914); Rosa Birdie Sandige Ice holding son McGarvey (b. 1909).  About two year after this photo was taken Rosa and the children lived in Shreve, Ohio while First Lieutenant KC Ice tried in vain to save soldiers from epidemic flu in stateside base hospitals.  At times he had one orderly to assist.  Her raven hair turned white from worrying about him.  Overseas orders in hand, he was waiting in Maryland for the next departing ship when the truce was signed ending the war.  He resumed his medical practice in small town Jerry City, then Bladensburg, Ohio.