Sunday, March 15, 2015

William A. Ridgeway: Restoring What Was Lost

Every so often, we misplaced things, and we eventually convince ourselves they are lost for good. Other times, things are taken, and the sands of time seem to cover every track of evidence. After taking everything into account, there are seasons to rejoice when the lost has been found. This is what happened today with the Confederate tombstone of William A. Ridgeway.
William Almus Ridgeway 
& his wife Salena "Jones" Ridgeway
Through an interesting set of circumstances, Mr. Ridgeway’s tombstone mysteriously disappeared many years ago without a trace from the Smith Hensley Cemetery, in Baxter County, Arkansas. The tombstone was recently discovered somewhere near Kansas City, Missouri, in a garage next to a house that was being razed.  Since the tombstone’s engraving designated Mr. Ridgeway had served in the Confederacy, a gentleman contacted the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Connections were made to bring the stone back home, and subsequently it was returned to Baxter County. We had the opportunity to reset his monument with the local Sons of Confederate Veterans group, the 27th Arkansas Infantry, Camp 1519.

I recently had the opportunity to see his 98 page biography he dictated in 1906. While digitally scanning its pages, it was a surreal experience as I would stop and read out loud the words of a man who experienced many pivotal points of our nation’s history.  A descendant of W. A. Ridgeway, Royce Jones, has taken the task of transcribing this journal. It will be an interesting read when completed. Below are some of the facts gathered so far. More will be forthcoming.
Rest in Peace Lt. Ridgeway
Visit the grave-site of W. A. Ridgeway on Find A Grave.

Enjoy your Ozarks’ History.

 William Almus "Uncle Billie" Ridgeway
aka    W. A. Ridgeway
Paternal Great Grandfather: Thomas Ridgeway sailed from England to Georgia at age 14. Attacked by a British soldier with a sword which convinced him to fight with Gen. Washington in the Revolutionary War.

Paternal Grandparents: James and Elizabeth Ridgeway.

Maternal Grand Parents:of Jesse and Susan Goodwin

Father: John Ridgeway, was born in Halifax County, Virginia August 8th, 1791. Died in 1872.

Mother:Rebecca "Goodwin" Ridgeway was born in 1802 in Trigg County, Kentucky. Died in Weakley County, Tennessee in 1886.

W. A. Ridgeway had 6 siblings.
Three brothers: Jesse G., James M., and Samuel H. Ridgeway. 
Three sisters: Susan, Elizabeth, and Mary Ann. 

Civil War: Enlisted September 1, 1863 at Cottage Grove, TN, by Capt. Bowman. Brown horse valued at $700. Present on roll for Mar/April 1864 as Private. Present on roll for May/June 1864 as 2nd Lieutenant, "Elected 2nd Bvt. Lieutenant 20th of May, 1864". Wounded at Harrisburg (Tupelo, MS), "lacerated ... of the wrist"; granted 30 days leave July 26, 1864.

W. A. Ridgeway was married 3 times:

1st: Married to Angeline Kennedy: May 7th, 1846. Angeline "Kennedy" Ridgeway September 4th, 1874. She was the mother of fifteen (15) children. Three died in infancy, twelve lived to be grown and had families.

Mr. Ridgeway came to Arkansas in the autumn of 1874.

2nd: Married to a widow Ann Montgomery on November 18th. 1877.  Ann "Montgomery" Ridgeway was born Oct. 20, 1833. She died May 30th, 1883. No children by this woman.

3rd: Married to Salina Jones on March 10th, 1887. Salina "Jones" Ridgeway was born Aug. 20, 1837. She died Dec. 20, 1928. She is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Buford, Baxter County, Arkansas.

His personal claim: He knew David Crockett.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bean Cave Update

Over the past few years the topic of the Bean Cave & the Civil War has held my fascination. I recently had the opportunity to visit the secluded bluffs in where it is hidden. There are many small caves within the vicinity along these bluffs and crevasses of the upper White River. As our journey continued, we had the chance to drag and crawl our way to one cave that was highlighted on an 1888 map from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. Making it to this hidden cavern was no small feat.

After taking our pictures & video, we decided not to return the way we came. It still took an hour to for us to ascend the bluffs. The quick collapsing soil & tumbling rocks on the face of the hill gave us many lessons in the art of thanksgiving to the good Lord in Heaven in making it to the top. There were times we were spread eagle and grabbing any sapling that looked rooted; unfortunately, many of these small trees the were only one to two inches deep. Next time...we're taking a set of good long ropes. I do not plan to be a part of an Ozark Avalanche.
The breathtaking view after the trip up the White River bluffs.

Below is a small video of this adventure. There's more to come as we discover this region and its caves.

Here's a few stories I've put together over the past few years concerning the Bean Cave.

The Bean Cave in Marion County, Arkansas

Enjoy your Ozarks History.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Finding Bigfoot in Unexpected Places

Since I have been posting articles to my blog, there always seems to be a few stories that have been continually read. Of the many topics I choose to write about, the articles on the Ozark Sasquatch have grown in popularity. I briefly covered the subject in 2011 and thought it was concluded. Since that time, it has been read an average of 200 times a month. 

Over the past few months I have gone back and done a little more research on old Solomon Collins or “Ol’ Blue Sol.” It was his first initial sighting just north of the Rockbridge, Missouri, that we have the beginning of this Ozark story.
 Because of this story, I have met some amazing people in doing the background of the Blue Man of the Ozarks. Of those people, I have had the pleasure of meeting one of the most knowledgeable people in the world of Bigfoot. His name is Clifford LaBrecque, and it was an uncanny moment of how I met him. To the point….I do not believe in coincidence.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and visit with him. The man is a wealth of knowledge.

I will be sharing more about my journey & the Blue Man in the future. Needless to say, it’s amazing to see the connections that are orchestrated, even when it’s not expected. This whole process has encouraged me to keep researching & digging. I will leave you for the moment with a few pictures of a life-sized replica of Bigfoot & myself.

Enjoy your Ozarks’ History.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Pea Ridge National Military Park which is about 12 miles east of Bentonville, Arkansas. It is an historic Civil War site in the Ozarks' History that decided the fate of Missouri's future of being in the Union or the Confederacy.
Click to enlarge map.
On March 6th – 8th, 1862, strategy against each force was played out like a game of chess. Only the consequences were paid heavily in blood shed on both sides. The Union won the battle with casualties that are estimated to be about 1,384; and the Confederacy garnered losses of at least 2,000 men & boys. 

Battle of Pea Ridge, Ark., by Kurz and Allison.
United States Library of Congress's Prints &Photographs Division
Under the digital ID cph.3b52835.

 The sad & tragic lessons & consequences of this battle are many, but  its rustic beauty is something that should not be missed. I am not going to give a whole history lesson here; but needless to say, it is worth the time to go. Here are a few pictures from this past weekend.

One of the main reasons I wanted to visit the battleground was to see the monument dedicated to commemorate the reunification of the Union & Confederate soldiers of that battle. This monument was carved by a woman who at one time lived in Baxter County, Arkansas, named Lucy Daniel. The reason I know this is due to an author who lives here in the Ozarks named Abby Burnett. She has done a lot of research on monuments & burial customs, and she also has a new book out from the University Press of Mississippi entitled, Gone to the Grave: Burial Customs of the Arkansas Ozarks, 1850-1950. For those in historical societies looking for a great guest speaker, I would suggest contacting Abby at
Click for more information.

Reunited Soldiery Monument

Angel Aloft

Goddess of Liberty by Lucy Daniel, 1889.

Enjoy Your Ozarks' History.