Welcome, Shelia Stovall!
Today we have a special treat. My friend Shelia is here to share about one of her family legends. Shelia and I met at the ACFW conference in 2014, and I’m so glad to have her here today!
Shelia Stovall is a Southern, small-town librarian and knows what women like to read. She is a member of ACFW, secretary of the Middle Tennessee ACFW chapter, a member of the Kentucky Public Library Association, and the American Library Association.
Her short story, The Barber’s Sanctuary, won the fiction division of Kentucky Monthly’s sixth annual Writer’s Showcase in the November 2013 issue. The Frankfort-based Kentucky Monthly circulates about 45,000 copies. Shelia is a weekly columnist for the Citizen-Times, based in Scottsville, Kentucky.
Shelia’s Southern, small-town roots have given her an understanding of community and women’s friendships. Her writing deals with difficult contemporary issues, but there’s always a thread of hope amid the calamity. Characters in her stories share friendship, hope, and fried fruit pies. Readers will discover there’s a fruit for every season.
Shelia is passionate about African missions and has traveled to Africa annually for the past four years. Community service is also important to Shelia, and she has volunteered as a crew chief for the past five years at Camp Habitat, (a Christian youth service camp that partners with Habitat for Humanity).
Her husband, Michael Stovall, has been her best friend for thirty-two years. Shelia’s two adult children live in neighboring communities, and her favorite pastime is spending time with her two adorable grandsons, Matthew and Jacob.
Take it away, Shelia!
Thank you, Brandy, for inviting me to share a story that might interest genealogists. Judy, my mother-in-law, loved family, family history, and genealogy. One of my deepest regrets is that I didn’t listen closely and record her family stories.
According to family lore, the farm where my husband and I live has been owned by his people since the land grants given to Revolutionary War veterans. We have no documentation to prove this because the Simpson County, Kentucky Courthouse burned in May 1882.
Recently, my husband, Mike, stumbled upon something that supports this claim. He works in the agriculture industry and was asked to visit our neighbor’s farm where he discovered a cemetery, hidden in a grove of trees, about five hundred yards from our property line.
In the thirty years we’ve lived on this property, I’ve not once crossed the fence, and we had no idea the cemetery existed. Mike snapped some pictures and later took me to see his find. His mother, Judy, grew up on this farm, and I am sure she knew it existed but failed to mention it. Perhaps it is something she took for granted.
Simple stones mark many grave sites, and others are very ornate, but all have been damaged from the elements. One tombstone identifies the grave of a Revolutionary War soldier, William Lowe.
I couldn’t help but wonder if this might mark the resting place of my husband’s relative who received the land grant for the acreage. We had never heard anyone in the family mention the last name of “Lowe.” The surnames Johns, Peden, and Snider are the familiar family names. I’d need to review my mother-in-law’s family tree, but I had no idea where such an item might be stored.
I visited my father-in-law, and we scanned Judy’s many scrapbooks, but the search was futile. Ready to give up, I put away the albums, but my father-in-law said, “Let’s look inside her desk.” The first folder I pulled out was labeled, “For Evan Leslie’s D.A.R.” (Evan Leslie is my daughter.) It seemed Judy knew that someday, someone would be interested. It took mere seconds to locate the name I hoped to see, William Lowe.
I am thankful that Judy took such care to document her family ancestry. We’ll never be able to prove that the farm has been in my husband’s family since the land grants, but I feel confident the trails I walk with my grandchildren are the same as their ancestors from ten generations back.
We live in a beautiful place, and one tree in particular was probably standing over two-hundred years ago.
I imagine others from a different era sitting under its leafy limbs. There’s an old wagon trail that leads through the woods, and I’ve always wondered who used it. But the most special place, to me, is by a tiny stream that branches into Drake’s Creek. I need this quiet place, where no one speaks to me but God.
We are blessed by our inheritance, but a better inheritance awaits us because we are to be co-heirs with Jesus Christ. “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Romans 8:17.
My prayer is that you too will share in this glorious inheritance.
Thank you Brandy, for giving me the opportunity to share my story. To learn more about me and my friends, subscribe to my blog at www.sheliastovall.com.
Thank you, Shelia!