John Wesley “Little John” Melton was born in 1807 in De Kalb Co, Tennessee. He married Margaret Vester Benton in 1826, and died on Jul 2, 1896. Margaret died Jan 26, 1886. In the 1850 census, JW Melton is listed with wife Margaret, William 18, Martha 16, Alsie 15, Sarah 13, John 11, Elizabeth 10, Mourning 9, Berry 7, Isabella 5, Elmira 4, Mary 3, Cooper 2.
William Franklin Melton, born Aug 20, 1831 in Big Sandy, Melton County, Tennessee, married Rachel ‘Sara’ Holland in December 5, 1855 (b Apr 14,1838). He served as a private in the confederacy, 54th regiment, Tennessee Infantry. He died July 1, 1876. The cause of death was pernicious anemia due to chronic malaria. He is buried at the Flatwoods Methodist Cemetery in Camden, Benton Co, Tennessee.
He is listed in the 1860 census with a farm of 301 acres, 43 of which was improved. In the 187o census, wife Rachel, Pervella, Hugh, Merrit, John Franklin, Foster and Thomas Jefferson are listed at home. Real estate was valued at $800, possessions $500. They lived near the town of Big Sandy.
In 1860, the county was rural. There were abundant resources: timber, game salt, land and water. This territory was ceded to the United States by the Chickasaw Indians in the Jackson purchase of 1818. The Memphis and Ohio Railroad, completed in 1861, stopped nearby. In 1944, the Tennessee Valley Authority flooded much of the surrounding land, including the land occupied by our ancestors.
William ‘Hughey’ Melton (Oct 7, 1859- August 28, 1945) married Martha Jane Pierce (Sept 16, 1863 – Nov 4, 1934) on Jan 7, 1883. To them were born twelve children: Oliver ‘Carlos’, Ida Beulah (Robie’s great-grandmother), Flora Lillian, Maude ‘Luna’, Edward, William Frankin, Howard Arthey (Uncle Howard Murry’s namesake), Harvey Freeman, Hazel, Ethel, Otis and Wayne.
Carlos Melton set out on his own, settling in Las Animas County, CO near Pueblo. Ida Beulah, Robie’s great-grandmother, married William Cherry in Benton Co, Tennessee. The remainder of the family left for Texas around 1906.
Letter from Carlos Melton to the Wellington Leader Newspaper in 1940:
Seasons greetings, and Christmas times bring sweet memories of long ago when a dear mother and daddy would begin to wonder how and in what way “can we make our little bunch of twelve children happy on Christmas day?” And in that little home today memories linger near, and a sad thought that this ever-loving mother left us 6 years ago. Our blessed lord saw fit to take her away. Her work was done on this earth. Also one sister and one brother have passed away, making three broken links in the family.
We all loved them so well. May God help us to live so as to meet them again some sweet day.
And this same dear old daddy who was so good and kind to her and to us children is still with us today. Oh, how thankful we are are, and may this Christmas bring to him peace and happiness and good health, and the only thing that keeps me from spending this Christmas with him is my financial situation.
But I must say we children always had our stockings filled chuck full on Christmas morning when we would get up. Today we are scattered some distance apart, each with a family of our own, running from one to eight in the family. So let’s children each one give something to our children to make them happy on Christmas day.
Teach them as we were taught, to be honest through life and stay sober. Me being the oldest child, I am sending this message. May this Christmas bring good health and happiness to each individual child of this family and of their families. May each of us make our home happy on that day as were made by our parents.
Let us remember that this world is full of trouble and sorrow. So speak some cheering words to some person who may feel as though life is not worth living. After all, it is a pleasure to be here and to love and be loved by others. And may each one of us be proud of a mother and dad like ours.
Though Dad is 82 years old, we are proud of him and may God bless and keep him in the remainder of his days is my prayer.
Now if the editor of the Wellington Leader will see fit to publish this in next week’s issue, I hope each brother and sister gets to read this copy, for this is my sincerest wishes to Dad and all of you.
A merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Note of April 1955: To my surprise I was visiting Almeda and Charles for a week. She showed me this letter. To me it refreshed my memories. Lots of saviour have come, lots of joys have been mine and I am thankful for life and what it means to me. But time is swiftly passing by and our loved ones will only remember us of days gone by. But above all may they be of good deeds done while we were with them. This is my hearts desire, and may God’s everlasting love ever abide with you all. And when my time comes to leave you, that my soul may find rest and happiness in Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us all prepare to meet our Christ the king of kings.
Excerpt from Uncle Ed Melton’s letters:
I was the oldest boy at home. Mama had gone to visit her sister, Aunt Mary Phifer and was spending the night with her. The man who bought our place had paid Dad $3500 down. Dad had Flora and Luna iron out the money and sew it in two different packages – one had $3000 and the other $500. We didn’t have mattresses for our beds. Had straw ticks with a feather tick to sleep on. Dad hid the money in his straw tick on his bed. The next day all the boys in the neighborhood was there to play. Dad told me to take all the boys in the neighborhood. Dad told me to take all of the old straw ticks down to the wood lot and to burn them. We took them, eight in all, and made a straw heap on which we played for awhile. We decided to burn the straw. About the time it was burned up, Dad thought of the money. It was too late. The $3000 package had burned. While we were playing we kicked the $500 package out. The corner had burned off it. Dad found the $3000 package, but stuffed it in a fruit jar and mixed all the numbers up. The bank could not make heads or tails of it so dad lost the $3000. He got new bills for the $500 and meanwhile the fellow who bought the place paid Dad the other $3500 he owed.
We started for Texas, 10 of us kids still at home. We had killed 16 big hogs, meat smoked and boxed up for shipping. All our household goods got to Memphis. Met a crook there that knew Dad and knew he was carrying the money. He took us all for a street car ride and kept us until nearly train time. Dad hadn’t transferred our belonging to the other Rock Island Railroad. He said, “You let me have the $300 and I will transfer your stuff for you.” So Dad gave him $300. Nothing showed up. Dad knew the postmaster at Memphis and wrote him to see if he could trace it down. We found the baggage at South Memphis. The man had pawned it for $500 and skipped the country. It cost Dad another $500 to get it out of the pawn shop. Dad still had his right mind. How, I don’t know. We rented a place the first year. Had a hundred bales of cotton. I think Dad cleared nearly $500 after picking costs. The next year, we built our own place. Hauled water for one year for the house and stock.
One Saturday morning, I told Dad I wanted to dig a well with a drop auger. He said all right. I had a good little cow horse, so I pulled the drop auger up and down by the saddle horn. We dug one hundred feet the first day, and the hole so crooked up we could let a lantern down the hole and not see the light. So, I had to stop the project. Dad got a well driller to set over the hole. He drilled for two days with a tight rope, straightening the hole out and went on down 25 feet. Got a good well of water.
Ida Beulah Melton (Jan 23, 1886 – Aug 18, 1972) married William Thomas Cherry Aug 10, 1880 – June 14 1970) in Benton County, Tennessee. On the 1910 census, the family lived in Quail, Collinsworth Co, Texas with Laura, John and Louis Cherry. He is listed as a stock farmer.