A fun activity on Stinking Creek is to figure out the question, “Who are we?” Melody Kemner, who many of you know from her Dewitt school years, has been grappling with that question all her life. Who and how many people on Stinking Creek alone are her cousins―first, second and third? Who are blood cousins and who have been brought into the family through marriage?
We do know who her mother is because Peggy delivered Melody in a log cabin up Stinking Creek in 1966. Her birth mother is Tressie Stewart who already had Hope, Margaret, Ricky, Gale and Alice and they lived near Lost Fork and most of the children came to Lend-A-Hand Center for various activities. Peggy brought the little bundle straight to the Center and we named her Melody Rose. Since they continued coming to the Center several years Melody did know them as her siblings.
At six years old Peggy legally adopted her so she could start school as Melody Kemner.
So we do know who she is or do we? Yes, she does know her siblings, her mother, Tressie, her grandparents, Rosa and Richard Cox, and even her great grandmother, Tressie Messer, all who lived on or around Lost Fork of Stinking Creek. Her mother was one of ten children; most of them married and had children. So these ten would be her aunts and uncles and their children would be first cousins. Their children would be first cousins once removed.
Her great grandmother, Tressie was married to Robert Messer near Lost Fork and they had a son named Robert Messer, Junior, who was the principal at Dewitt. She called him “Uncle Bob” and wondered who all were her cousins in school. So who is she? How many other students at Dewitt also wondered who all they were related to?
So Escoe Smith, one of her cousins, decided to figure out who he is and who all were kin to him. He says, and I quote from the preface of his book, Who Are We, “In 1980 after the death of my mother and father I decided that I needed to trace down my family history. I remember all my life sitting around listening to my father and mother talking about mammy, granny, great granny, etc. I was unable to distinguish who they were talking about”.
So Escoe Smith, store merchant at Dewitt, started collecting information from kinfolk, family Bible, court records and any other source he could find for twenty-five years and compiled a book called, Who Are We. Did he answer all the questions?
Good luck, Readers, in getting all the names and relationships straight. Many children, many marriages and many names and using the same names many times can complicate the problem.