June 18, 2007 at 6:46 am #3079
rosebudsaponi wrote: Oh my Lord
So you are Uncle Jack’s great grandson. This is so awesome. First, let me say that I miss your Uncle Lucky something fierce. He and my mother used to talk regularly. Has anyone found Uncle Jack’s Bible? My grandmother had that Bible for years, then, when we found Lucky, we shipped it out to him. Barbara on the Poythress website has pictures of the family pages. We all met in Richmond a number of years ago and she took those.
I have a picture of Uncle Jack somewhere. My great grandmother Mamie and Jack were siblings. You are correct that he was a carpenter and very talented with his hands. He also played the fiddle like it was on fire. Especially considering he lost several fingers on his left hand. My mother has many many fond memories of Aunt Bertha.
It is funny that you are from Charles. All I have on him is his date of birth and death records. This was part of the line that I didn’t know which way to go since they went out west.
I will be the first to warn you though, the family is still very tight lipped about alot of information and it takes quite awhile for them to warm up. I will, however, share everything I have with you. May I say, welcome home Steve.
By the way, James R. Poythress’ wife is Sarah “Sallie” Crowder, daughter of Hezekiah and Nancy Adams Crowder. Hezekiah is the son of William of Dinwiddie VA, born abt 1723.
The prodigal Poythress is back! 😀 I guess it’s been several years since I’ve contributed, I owe a big apology on that, my bad. To reply to your points above –
Several leads I have best point to the family bible and other geneology info of the “northwest Poythress’s” being in the posession of Sister’s daughter, Jeanette (Sister’s given name is Laura Lee Poythress, she is my grandfather Chuck’s youngest sister). I’ve only met her a few times in my life, the last being at my grandma Eleanor’s funeral (Eleanor Bernice Williams, first wife of grandpa Chuck) .
After we had buried her ashes (grandma Eleanor) a few of us made our way back to Grants Pass Ore for brunch, it’s been a while now as that was about 7-8 years ago but I remember my sister (Penny Leigh) was there, along with my father (Gary Fredrick) and his sister (Sharon). My dad and aunt Sharon began to talk about relatives, they did fondly recall Lucky (Horace Elmo)… My father also briefly mentioned the only member of the family still living in NC, Bennie Wayne? Is he/was an acting minister? I’m pretty sure that’s right as I recall that was the joke at the table, there was no ‘middle of the road’ in Jack’s family (Jack Elmo), his kids were pushed to either one extreme or the other!
And that began a biography of my grandfather, Charles Poythress (my “grandpa Chuck”) as recalled from his children – suddenly a whole lot of our multi-generational dysfunction really came into focus. So this is my abbreviated knowledge of my grandfather, Charles Poythress, the most of it learned in that 30-minutes seated at that restaurant table.
Charles Fredrick Poythress was born in Richmond VA, and his father Jack (Elmo) pressured young Charles to smoke cigarettes by the age of six; Charles told my father that he would be sent to school with a pack of cigarettes rolled-up in his shirt sleeve. Jack did not tolerate ‘weak’ sons, and their education in ‘male-ness’ was hands-on, brutal, and thorough. Jack was also reputed to be a successful moonshiner, an endeavor he was partnered in with his brother.
Charles achieved a sixth-grade education, and I *believe* served underage in the military (WW2) although that is more an impression/supposition on my part. Charles relayed to my father that he met his first wife Eleanor in Coos Bay Or; she was a waitress at a local coffee shop/restaurant and Charles, who indulged in a lifelong sport of engaging, flirting, chatting-up, and taking home waitresses talked Eleanor into a date and long-term relationship.
Dad and Sharon related a brutal childhood at the hands of their father Charles; the picture they painted of him was not glamorous at all – that of being often violent, often drunk with an unpredictable temperament and rampant episodes of unchecked physical abuse towards Eleanor, my father, and Sharon – to the point of inflicting absolute physical terror lasting well into the kids’ teen years.
According to my father, all four of them were living in Coos Bay Ore at the time my father turned six years old, at which point Eleanor had decided to literally flee her marriage with Charles by secretly purchasing a used car and moving unannounced to sothern Oregon and then filing for divorce; remember that this was in the early 1950’s, women were not allowed to even consider this kind of action let alone go through with it especially in Southern Oregon which was largely lawless at the time. True to plan, Eleanor purchased her own car, quickly loaded my father and infant Aunt Sharon and left Coos Bay – my father tells that this was literally his first experience in an automobile, and that he was violently motion sick the entire day-long trip. But after several months, Charles did successfully track Eleanor and his children to their new home, and after another confrontation a reconciliation was begun.
After arriving in southern Oregon, Charles became involved in competitive team roping; according to my father he only achieved average skill for the endeavor but loved it and the equine lifestyle around it, and within several years had purchased a parcel of land large enough to support a house, sizeable barn, arena, and pasture to maintain a few horses just off the end of the airport runway in Medford Ore. The house, fences, and outbuildings were constructed entirely of free scavenged lumber-mill scrap (White City and Medford were home to over a half-dozen major lumber mills at the time) by Charles, my father, Sharon, and Eleanor; my father recalled there being absolutely no outside labor, they built everything themselves. The walls of the two-story barn were fashioned by laminating (or, layering) reject two-by-four timbers horizontally atop each other face-to-face; the resulting walls of the barn were four-inches thick of solid Douglas Fir timber. My father bitterly recalls a conscripted youth of constant nailing as a pre-teen, and much chiding from Charles over bent nails which they could not afford to waste.
Charles was an avid and accomplished hunter and outdoorsman, superbly skilled in stalking/tracking game and equally proficient with bow, firearm, and fishing pole. He taught my father to hunt at an early age (pre-teen) and the family regularly lived off what they killed in the mountain wilderness of southern Oregon. In his later life, Charles owned a boat and regularly fished the ocean off Coos Bay Ore.
The remainder of the marriage between Charles and Eleanor was still rife with pain, fighting, and infidelity; and parental discipline was routinely severe. Chuck continued a loosing “relationship” with alcohol, it being a major negative influence in his life. Chuck and Eleanor did divorce later, my impression being during my father and aunt’s later teen years.
Charles was gifted with an almost psychic insight into people and was a master interviewer and salesman; my father has professed that Charles literally could engage in a 2-minute conversation with any stranger and come away knowing everything about that person, including strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. Charles was also an accomplished womanizer, a near-incurable alcoholic, and opened/operated/failed a few local bars around the Medford Ore area in his early adult life. And he was an unabashed hell-raiser, having a completely untamable personality, total lack of fear for any man or thing, and an innate disrespect for authority – for several decades in southern Oregon he was constantly involved in all manner of disorderly conduct, brawling, and physical violence short of egregious felony. It was open knowledge in southern Oregon that Charles always carried on his person a loaded firearm and *at least* $5000 in 100-dollar bills (remember that this was the 1950’s, that was a fortune then), the cash regularly used to pay-off police officers arriving on scene of any disturbance he might discover himself in and sidestep arrest. Charles came to know every law enforcement officer personally on a one-to-one basis, making friends of many during his life in southern Oregon; in fact both my father and Sharon were taught to drive a car in their teenage years by Medford Ore police officers!
(cont’d…)June 18, 2007 at 6:46 am #26996
My father confided that Charles and he had a cooling-off over my dad’s decision to marry my mother (Sandra Crawford); my father professing his love and announcing his intention to marry, and Charles’ reply that my mother was ‘no damned good’ and ‘would not be welcome in his [Charles’] house’, and forcasted that the relationship was doomed and my father was stupid to marry her (Chuck’s words). My father also admitted separately that in his early adult years he held a high degree of contempt for Chuck. So, it was for a good 15 to 20 years they did not associate with each other; because of this I never really knew Chuck, he was never present in my life even though he lived 30-minutes away my entire childhood; he was referred to as “your Grandpa Chuck” and my entire firsthand direct knowledge of him being limited to three experiences: the first spending a morning with him and grandma Eleanor trout fishing in Diamond Lake Ore (I was 5?); the second I was sixteen, Chuck showed up unannounced at my high school to give me keys to my first vehicle, a 1977 GMC pickup with a rebuilt Corvette engine (handing me the keys he told me very seriously that I was now sixteen, and ‘a man always has a set of wheels and $20 in his pocket’ and that he expected me to never forget that); and finally a brief encounter driving with him a couple hours on the Pacific Coast Highway the day my father remarried (of all things I remember Grandpa Chuck telling me was that he enjoyed studying television evangelists, not for the doctrine but to observe their distinct methods of presentation, showmanship, and ability to engage a crowd). Each time he called me “Stevie”; I remember that…
Backtracking in the story a moment, during my pre-teens (c.1980) I once visited the White City property with my grandmother Eleanor, and my sister Penny; the purpose was to be introduced to Bertha Poythress (Bertha Lee Forbes, referred to as “Granny”) and Sister. At the time of that visit I was too young to grab the significance (‘am I supposed to know these old people?!’) but I told Granny that I had ealier began a family tree and asked if she would write down any information she could contribute, which she mailed to me several weeks later, it was surprisingly extensive and complete (dates, places, etc – see page 1, page 2, page 3). Also, although Granny was suffering a high degree of immobility in that visit, she was *very* lucid and just as witty as we wet-eared folk. My Grandma Eleanor enjoyed a very good relationship with both Bertha and Sister, they adored Eleanor (as did I) even long after her divorce with Grandpa Chuck.
In later life years, Charles did sober-up and make a little more success for himself, and was a man with more than his share of life and familial regrets. He did marry again to Carin Grendell and they did have a daughter – I do not know anything of my half-aunt except her name is Laura Poythress (Charles affectionately called her ‘Tooter’), that she is a couple years younger than me, and that at the time of Charles’s death she was living in Central Point Ore. I met Laura once briefly (about 1-hr) at their home when we were teens (c. 1984).
Chuck also made effort to repair whatever relationship he could with Eleanor, she telling Penny and I that Chuck made a serious and genuine effort to befriend her in later years (following her divorce with Eddie York), specifically telling me that on occasion they would go out together for coffee. And Chuck did help Eleanor by offering advice on maintaining her small fleet of busses and recommending mechanics in the area. If they did have more of a financial relationship than that I am not aware of it although it would not surprise me. But I do know that Eleanor and Chuck were each other’s true love, and their relationship a tragedy.
Eventually the property in White City was bought-out by the adjacent Rogue Valley airport to make room for an expanded runway, and at the slated time of demolition (c. 1985) contractors armed with a D8 Caterpillar tractor could not dismantle the barn; in fact the building, every bit the size of a grade-B dairy barn, had so much timber in it that the massive Cat could not even budge it from the foundation. After several weeks of delay due to befuddlement and headscratching the local fire department was finally employed to burn down the Poythress barn, a process taking several days, and the property finally cleared in the name of progress.
Later in Chuck’s life my father took the initiative to spend a great deal of time together, the two of them traveling and sharing some adventures in the couple years preceding Chuck’s death. Chuck continued to work until his death – at age 65 and self-employed in the plastics business, he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and died nine months later (March 8, 1993) leaving little in the way of any inheritance. His body was cremated, however I do not know if his remains were buried or scattered. I did receive a copy of Charles’s will at his death.
I felt it important to put this information down, to me the life of Chuck Poythress shows a lot of the values that were important to Elmo (Jack) and earlier generations; for the benefit of my own kids I think. It just makes me reflect at times how much of me personally is “nature” and how much is “nurture”; it is something that honestly I am still dealing with even as an adult. There’s a lot of life lessons in there…
Mr. P. 🙂June 18, 2007 at 6:46 am #27332
I enjoyed reading this. Very well written about a very interesting personality.June 18, 2007 at 6:46 am #28112
There was, indeed, a very strong urge for control in the Poythress men. However, the bootlegging of Uncle Jack stumps me slightly. I do know that the Turner men of Northampton Co NC did, so it wouldn’t surprise me but that is the first time I’ve heard anything about Uncle Jack being involved. And with what brother? Uncle Jack moved to Wilson early on. His brother Brutus was still living in Northampton and his brother Stephen died in 1924 in Vance Co. We don’t know what happened to William, he just disappears. This leaves Fate who did go to Wilson and 2 brothers from his 3rd wife, Rosa. They remained in Northampton. Fate would be the only reasonable suspect. It would be interesting to find out the relationship between these 2 Poythress men and the Turner men that were running back and forth between Wilson and Northampton. We do have documents about the charges against some Turner men regarding bootlegging. The Scotts as well.
From the stories we’ve been told, Uncle Jack was very handy with his hands. Having the ability to survive off the land is nothing new. This was a necessity for them living in NC. They were all avid hunters/fishermen. They would make their own fishnets as well.
I never knew how your line ended up in the Northwest. I assumed it was because Lucky was stationed out there while in the Navy and just stayed and everyone followed.
I have found another descendant of Uncle Jack and a close cousin of yours. They are in Oregon. We have been talking for the last week. I am very excited that many of us are finally connecting.
CrystalJune 18, 2007 at 6:46 am #28132
I tell you who could write the tell-all novel, that’s my Aunt Sharon! Yes I have heard from other sources that Jack was regarded as a carpenter or other craftsman. One of these days I need to spend more time with Sharon…
Excuse me, there “was” a strong urge for control in Poythress men??!! LOL sorry to correct you dearheart but there still IS ha ha ha. I’m not as bad as former Poythress men, my mother saw to that – but my dad is still very much that way. As Grandpa Chuck would have said, “he comes by it honestly”.
At first read this might seem like I am bashing my own lineage; on the contrary I am very proud of who I am, and being sheltered from this by both my mother and father I feel (now as an adult) that was a mistake and disservice on their part. Poythress’ (at least those of Jack’s family) are very unique, larger than life personalities, real “people” people, extemely intelligent, and very strong-minded/independent thinkers by nature and my upbringing was to try and actually tame/stiffle that as much as possible, yeah I’m admittedly unhappy with my parents there. Where I see all of this the most is in my own daughter, she is so “Poythress” it’s scary – trust me she “comes by it honestly!” LOL Her personality is so much like Chuck and my dad at times it’s like my father in a skirt.
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