The 1915 Ride to Save Clifton Maden Stooksbury

Rather than delay this blog post, I’m posting with hope somebody out there can help me finish it. That is, the last one or two paragraphs of this 1981 article by Carson Brewer that appeared in the Knoxville News-Sentinel. As my source lacks the ending of the article, at this moment I’m unable to transcribe how the article ends. If anyone has a copy in its entirety, I’d appreciate receiving a digital copy, to update this post. Due to budget tightening, my online historical newspaper subscription, that would allow access to this article, expired years ago.

My annotations will be placed throughout the article in brackets, so you’ll know these are {my notations} and not part of original article.

The family involved in this story was that of Lewis and Louisa (Sharp) Stooksbury. Lewis was son of Sarah (Loy) Stooksbury, daughter of “Fisher” John Loy, son of George Loy, son of Martin Loy (to America 1741). Louisa’s Sharp relatives also had spouses who were Loy-by-blood.

Lewis Stooksbury’s son Isaac Miller Stooksbury (1889-1941) was main character of the article. Miller’s nephew Maden, whose illness was central to this story, was son of Miller’s brother Sherman Stooksbury (1875-1953) and wife Mary Bell. Maden’s mother Mary Bell (Loy) Stooksbury (1883-1950) was daughter of Alfred Loy, son of Jacob Loy, son of “Fisher” John Loy, son of George Loy, son of Martin Loy (to America 1741). Maden’s parents were second cousins to each other through their Loy line.

“Fisher” John Loy had two first cousins also named John Loy who migrated to East Tennessee near the time he did. One was his uncle John’s son John Loy, Jr. The other was his uncle Henry’s son John Loy, my ancestor. Maden was my grandmother’s (née Loy) double 5th cousin through his parents’ Loy lines.

The family setting of Brewer’s article takes place in the rural area near Loyston, Union County, Tennessee, which had previously been known as Loy’s Crossroads. But according to Sherman’s son’s death certificate, the family had been living at nearby Lost Creek, not Loyston. Each village had its own post office, so it’s likely that being in a rural farm area both villages were as close to their farm. While Lost Creek was in 9th District, Loyston was in 8th District. After redistricting sometime between 1900-1910 census, Loyston and Lost Creek shared the 4th District, while enumerator often wrote the old district numbers in a side note. The 1910-1930 census definitely shows the family living in what originally was designated as 8th District, later redistricted into 4th District, supporting the Irwins’ recollection of the family living near Loyston.


From Thursday, 29 January 1981 Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).
Article by:

Carson Brewer

Miller Made Hero Ride;
Maden Merely Balked

   GATHER ‘ROUND, CHILDREN, and I will tell you about the ride of Miller Stooksbury from Loyston to Knoxville more than 60 years ago.
   You never heard of Loyston? Why, a picture of it was in the News-Sentinel last week. It was that village in Union County, on Clinch River, that was drowned by Norris Lake in 1936. Every 15 years or so, when the weather is very dry and the lake level drops, some of the old foundations of Loyston homes are visible. Oldtimers take youngsters back there and point out where Aunt Lucy Stooksbury and Grandpa Irwin were born. {Of all the Lucy Stooksburys, my wild guess is “Aunt Lucy” was Lucy Beatrice (Henegar) Stooksbury (1918-1975), a long-time area schoolteacher who died six years prior to article. She married Miller and Sherman’s nephew Esco Stooksbury. Besides Esco’s father Lawrence being of Loy descent, Esco’s mother Bonny Kate (George) Stooksbury (1898-1973) was great-great-granddaughter of “Fisher” John Loy. “Grandfather Irwin” would have been John Edward (“Ned”) Irwin (1830-1887), grandfather to cousins Fayte and Glenn Irwin.}
   This story comes to you through the memories of S. L. (Fayte) Irwin, Browns Gap Road, Knox County, and Glenn G. Irwin, Mountain Road, Anderson County. Actually, Fayte had kind of a hazy memory to it and told me to call Glenn, who Fayte said would know all the details. Glenn did not at first remember all the details, but he talked with some of the other folk and they put the story back together. {Sterling LaFayette Irwin (1907-1988), though not descended from Loys, had ancestors who were in-laws to Loys; many of his Irwins married those of Loy descent. Glenn Gatewood Irwin (1904-1985) was son of Sarah Jane (Stooksbury) Irwin, daughter of John Isaac Stooksbury who was eldest brother of Maden’s grandfather Lewis Stooksbury. (Sarah Jane’s husband John Griffin Irwin was uncle to Sterling LaFayette Irwin.) Thus, Glenn was 2nd and 3rd cousin to Maden through their Loy lines. Glenn’s son John Rice Irwin was founder of Museum of Appalachia.}
   Glenn cannot give the exact time of this ride. Not the month or the year. But it was about 1918-1920. {Only 3-5 years off, a pretty good estimate.} And it was in winter. That’s part of the story. It was bitter cold winter and an icy rain was falling.
   Sherman Stooksbury’s small son, Maden was sick. Very sick. {This was November 1915 and Maden would have been 2 years, 8 months old.} Dr. C. P. Wilson, the Loyston doctor, rode his horse the two miles from Loyston to the Stooksbury home and examined Maden. {According to death certificate, Dr. Wilson first tended to him on 6 November 1915. Dr. Caswell Pharoah Wilson (1891-1956) was son of Asbury and Hazy Lincoln (Stooksbury) Wilson. Asbury was son of Parley (Sharp) Wilson, daughter of Elizabeth (Loy) Sharp, daughter of “Fisher” John Loy. Dr. Wilson’s mother Hazy’s uncle Isaac Stooksbury and his wife Sarah (Loy) Stooksbury were Miller and Sherman Stooksbury’s grandparents. Dr. Wilson’s wife Helen (Irwin) Wilson’s father Paris Irwin’s siblings had spouses of Loy descent. Fayte and Glenn were likely right in calling Dr. Wilson “the Loyston doctor” in the sense he made doctor’s calls to Loyston. But Sherman’s son’s death certificate gives the doctor’s home office in Maynardville.}
   He said Maden had diptheria. And the medicine Maden needed was not one of those the doctor carried in his old black bag.
   Nor was it back in his office. It was a medicine that had to be kept cold. And Loyston had no refrigerator and no ice house. Somebody would have to go all the way to Knoxville to get the medicine at a drug store.
   There was a family conference. It was decided that Sherman’s brother, Miller, would ride for the medicine. Sherman and Miller were the sons of Lewis Stooksbury. Miller would ride one of their father’s horses. It probably was the best horse in the whole Stooksbury clan, for this was a vital ride.
   It was a 25-mile trip to Knoxville over the Old Loyston Pike and Maynardville Pike, a 50-mile roundtrip. Dr. Wilson said Maden needed that medicine quickly.
   Miller, a big 200-pounder, about 28 years old {he would be 26 the following month}, saddled the horse and headed down the pike in the cold rain. Somebody — Sherman or another Stooksbury — phoned Beeler Livery Stable, at the foot of Copper Ridge, and ordered a fresh horse to be saddled and waiting for Miller when he reached there. {Beeler Livery was owned by Jacob Sheridan Beeler (1868-1936), known to locals as “Sheridan.” Sheridan’s daughters Maggie and Zola married Dewey and Horace Loy, sons of Lewis and Mary Elizabeth (Flemming) Loy, son of William, son of “Fisher” John Loy. Sheridan’s brother Prior Lee’s wife Nancy Jane (Irwin) Beeler was daughter of Rachel (Loy) Irwin, daughter of “Fisher” John Loy. Sheridan’s wife Elizabeth (Irwin) Beeler’s uncle William Irwin was husband of Rachel (Loy) Irwin.}
   On and on the horse carried Miller, at what Glenn calls a “slow lope.” He reached the livery stable, changed horses, rode on into Knoxville. Fayte thinks he went to one of the Kuhlman & Chambliss drug stores here.
   Fayte also had heard that he walked the horse up and down Gay Street to keep him warm while the druggist filled the prescription.
   Back he went to the livery stable, where he again mounted the Stooksbury horse for the long ride back to Loyston. The air was colder, the rain slanted and stinging on the rider’s face.
   He rode up to Sherman’s home. His feet were frozen in the stirrups. He had covered 50 miles in six hours. He and his horse were exhausted. …..


This is where my copy of the article becomes illegible. From the title, I gather Maden refused to take the medicine. I do know he died within days of contracting diptheria, his death certificate signed by Dr. C. P. Wilson of Maynardville.

I did find discrepancies during my research. The child’s death certificate was in name of Clifton Stooksbury, son of Sherman and Belle (Loy) Stooksbury, of Lost Creek, TN. Clifton died of diptheria after 3 days, at 2 a.m. on 9 November 1915, at age 2 years, 8 months. He was to be buried on 10 November 1915 at Stooksbury Cemetery at Lost Creek, TN with undertaker George Irwin. Although there were several cemeteries named “Stooksbury Cemetery” according to TVA removal records, this one was likely (TVA Cemetery #69) Stooksbury Cemetery on land of McHenry Stooksbury, located in Union County, Tennessee in Civil District 4, 3/8 mile south of Loyston. But apparently the family decided to change burial location, as there were no records of his burial at Stooksbury Cemetery, under either Clifton or Ma(i)den.

Through death certificate writing error, his birth was given as 9 February 1915. But to be age 2 years, 8 months, the correct birth date should have been 9 February 1913. His grave marker at Find a Grave shows name spelling as Maiden Stooksbury (1913-1915). Either grave marker inscriber spelled “Maden” wrong as “Maiden” or the family did spell it “Maiden” and the Irwins misspelled it “Maden” in Brewer’s article. He was reinterred at Sinking Springs Cemetery, Clinton, Anderson County, Tennessee. This is same cemetery Sherman Stookbury’s family were buried or reinterred. According to “Norris Reservoir Grave Removals Volume II (N-Z),” by Edith Wilson Hutton (1985), Sherman authorized reinterments for both Maiden and Conley Stooksbury (1905-1908). Conley’s stone is similar to Maiden’s. And the 1910 census shows Mary Bell (Loy) Stooksbury having 4 children, 3 living at time of census enumeration. Conley must have been that child born after their 1903 marriage and died by 1910.

According to Hutton’s Grave Removals book, Maiden was originally buried at (TVA Cemetery #34) Irwin Cemetery, on land of Plumer Irwin, Union County, Civil District 4, 1 mile east of Loyston. As there were other Irwin Cemeteries within the Norris Reservoir, Plumer Irwin’s name was added with the cemetery name.

According to the TVA.gov TVA Cemetery File (in PDF), it indicates Maiden was originally buried at Plumer Irwin Cemetery, in Campbell County, then reinterred at Sinking Springs Cemetery, plot #15. Hutton’s Grave Removals version, giving the cemetery near Loyston, Union County, makes more sense.

Both the TVA printout and Hutton’s book has Maiden’s dates as (1905-1907), which is definitely in error. The (1913-1915) grave marker dates coincide with death certificate of Clifton Stooksbury. Since I was first introduced to these TVA cemetery removal printouts in 1980s, I’ve learned to take their data with a grain of salt. Many birth and/or death dates in these printouts I found not consistent with family records, census records, gravestone inscriptions, or (when available) death certificates. In some cases, even a 50 year discrepancy.

Likewise, as in case of Maiden Stooksbury reinterment, Conley is given wrong years in the TVA.gov TVA Cemetery File (in PDF). There, it gives Conley with (1899-1901) dates, with first interment at Lon Sharp Cemetery, Union County, then reinterred at Sinking Springs Cemetery plot #16. This is the plot next to Maiden’s. According to Hutton’s Grave Removals book, which also gives these wrong dates, (TVA Cemetery #75) Lon Sharp Cemetery was on land of Lon Sharp, Union County, Civil District 4, on left bank of Clinch River, 1 1/4 mile NW of mouth of Dark Hollow.

Conley’s 1908 death year was the first year Tennessee began keeping state death records. Checking the Tennessee Death Index 1908-1912 for Stooksbury, I could find no Conley Stooksbury, or any similar surname spelling. Being the initial year, it’s likely not all deaths for the state were recorded.

At time of my writing this post, someone had Maiden and Conley’s Find a Grave memorials linked as being children of Sherman’s first cousin Isaac Emory Stooksbury and his wife Myrtle Lillian (Witt) Stooksbury, both of Loy descent. (Myrtle descending from “Fisher” John Loy’s cousin John Loy, Jr.) Isaac and Myrtle did have son Conley, but he was much younger and died in 2015. The 1910 census for Isaac and Myrtle showed Myrtle had 3 children, 2 living. That deceased child would have been Buena Stooksbury (born and died 1909). So between 1910 census clue and Brewer’s article, these boys would not have “fit” for this family. Today I submitted corrections to Find a Grave, to link Conley and Maiden’s memorials with their correct parents.

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