Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Colonial Post Rider

Edward Adams (1739-1825), born in Milton, Massachusetts, was a Colonial post rider who carried
the Continental mail between Boston and Hartford, Massachusetts – a distance of 102 miles. Though he did serve briefly during the American Revolution in 1776, his primary occupation was as a mail carrier. Edward was a post rider for 16 years before the Revolutionary War and continued as a post rider throughout the Revolutionary War.
Edward's route went from Boston to Hartford and back.
Edward married Dorothy Spear (1743-1802) on June 30, 1763. They had nine children – all of whom lived to adulthood. After Dorothy died in 1802, Edward married Sarah Morey (1762-1851) on February 15, 1810.

Generally speaking, a post rider was a contractor who promised to deliver the mail within a certain geographical area for a set period of time. The mail was not delivered to individuals as we have today; the mail was delivered to a central location in town – a general store, an inn, a tavern. The townspeople would have to come to the central location to get their mail. If someone was picking up mail for themselves and there was mail for neighbors, they would also take their neighbors’ mail and deliver the mail to them. And, it was not the sender, but the receiver who had to pay the postage. 

Mail delivery, as part of Colonial America, started officially in 1775. The Colonists established the postal system, i.e., post riders, as a way to rebel against the what they saw as the unfair rules as established by the Royal Mail Service. Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster. In fact, he was also the postmaster during the Royal Mail Service. Franklin required the post riders to ride day and night using relays, carrying a lantern at night to light their way.

The post riders did not have an easy job. Much of the area was wilderness. Travel required fresh horses, overnight stays, hardships due to weather, threats from attacks by Indians, and robbery by highwaymen. And, should the post riders manage to escape these hazards of the job, the sender of the mail could not be certain that the letter would arrive safely. [1] A letter could take as long as two weeks to make the 100 plus miles between two cities.

Before being eliminated by the advent of the Pony Express and railroads, the post riders provided the longest and most complete service.

Edward Adams is the 3rd cousin 8 times removed of my sons.
1 – Gavin, Alison M. “In the King’s Service: Hugh Finlay and the Postal System in Colonial America.” National Archives, Summer 2009, summer/finaly.html. Vol. 41, No. 2.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Five Sons Scalped

Typical Way Station - Google Image
By 1785, George H. Noaks (1736-1789) and his wife Diana Ditto Noaks (1739- ?) had ten children.  On January 1, 1785, five of those children – all sons – were killed and scalped and a daughter was wounded by a raiding party of Shawnee and Cherokee Indians at Crab Orchard. The boys ranged from 5 to 20 years of age, the daughter was 12 years old.

Before the Revolutionary War, the Nokes/Noaks/Noakes families are found in Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. George and Diana Noaks were married in Maryland in 1755 and moved to North Carolina.  In 1781, they moved to Kentucky where they settled a few miles southeast of Crab Orchard. Their “settlement” was called Noaks Station – a small-sized “station” of only a few cabins without a defensive block house like the one in Crab Orchard.  The larger settlements (way stations) were built for protection. Because of the dangerous travel westward, the larger way stations were built for protection and would have log blockhouses for defense.

As travelers reached the various way stations, whether defensive or non-defensive, some decided to stay. Perhaps they were tired of traveling. Perhaps they were tired of facing the dangers of the “road”: robbers, criminals, Indians. Whatever the reason, travelers stayed and constructed homes. The Noaks were one of those families.
Wilderness Trail and Logan's Trace - Google Image
Crab Orchard and Noaks Station were near the end of “Logan Trace,” a part of the “Wilderness Road” established by Daniel Boone. The “road” started in Virginia, went south to Tennessee, and then turned north to go through the Cumberland Gap and Kentucky. The Logan Trace was named after Colonel Benjamin Logan, a friend of Boone’s who came to the mountains with him in 1775. Logan’s Trace was a branch of the Wilderness Road; but instead of going north, it veered northwestward.
A part of the Wilderness Trail today - Google Images

The settlers at the various way stations were subjected to multi-tribal raiding parties. The most troublesome for the settlers were the Indian raids coming out of the north from Ohiothe Shawnee, Mingo, Delaware, Wyandot, and Miami tribes. In general, Indian tribes were resentful of the takeover of their hunting lands. 
Daniel Boone leading travelers through the Cumberland Gap - Cumberland Gap Historical Park
The conflict between settlers and Indians continued well into the 1790s. There were ambushes, captures, horse stealing, murders, and raids. In 1785, about 100 travelers were killed while on the Wilderness Road. Because Noaks Station was “non-defensive,” George, Diana, and their children were easy targets. So unfortunately, in 1789, the Noaks family found themselves the target of a raid.

An interesting note: The name Noaks and its various spellings means "near the oaks." George and Diana Ditto Noaks are my biological 5th great-grandparents.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Bootlegger from Oklahoma

Thurman “Cowboy” Hice (1910-1988), a native of Oklahoma, had constant run-ins with the law as a bootlegger from 1937-1946 with 1938, 1939, and 1946 being particularly troublesome years. Thurman Hice was a high school graduate and a veteran of World War II.

Just what is a bootlegger?  The bootlegger was someone who sold illicit liquor – usually whiskey.
Bootleggers usually hid the bottles in their boots; thus, the name bootlegger. So, when someone bootlegged, he sold whiskey illegally. The “bootlegged” whiskey was legally distilled and bottled in other states and then "imported" to the bootlegger’s state.

The first documented evidence of Thurman’s bootlegging activities is in 1937 when he was 27 years old. He probably started at a younger age but had the unfortunate situation of getting caught and charged in 1937 with possession of 30 pints of whiskey:

1937 - August 19:  Ada Weekly News (Ada, Oklahoma) -- Three Arrested for Possession; Si Herion, Thurman Hice and Arthur Wardlow Free on Bonds
            Si Herion, Thurman Hice and Arthur Wardlow, all of Ada, were free under bonds Thursday after being arrested by the sheriff's force for possession of tax paid whiskey . . . . Hice also made a $2,000 bond. [Sheriff Clyde] Kaiser reporting capture of 30 points in this raid. Wardlow had only a small amount and was released under $500 bond, the usual procedure for first offenders.

From the above-excerpt, it can be deduced that Thurman was not a first-time offender. One of the individuals, Arthur Wardlow, only had a “$500 bond, the usual procedure for first offenders.” However, Hice’s bond was $2,000: Definitely not a first-time offender.

Even though Prohibition had been repealed on the national level in 1933 with the enactment of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Oklahoma continued to be a dry state until 1959. In fact, after national prohibition was repealed, the state legislature passed a law so that nothing stronger than 3.2 beer could be sold in Oklahoma – including at dance halls. Thus, the allure of “importing” illegal whiskey and making sales in dance halls. The bootlegger became a fixture at dance halls. [1]

Thurman again appears in the Ada Weekly twice in 1938. The newspaper reported on February 10, 1938, that Hice had been arrested in a raid at “his establishment” and charged with the unlawful possession of 77 pints of whiskey. On August 25, 1938, the Ada Weekly reported that Hice was one of five men arrested in raids for the illegal possession of liquor, and “a total of 105 pints of tax paid liquors were confiscated and over 100 quarts of home brew and five gallons of wine poured out.”

Thurman Hice is not seen in the Ada Weekly newspaper again until 1939. During that year, there were five stories all involving his arrests for illegal possession of liquor; and one of the men on the list was his older brother, Chester Hice (1906-1982): It apparently was a family business. And, for the first time, Thurman and his brother Chester were charged with a felony as seen in the following excerpt:

1939 - January 19:  War Is Declared On County Bootleggers In Series of Raids; Seven Men Held in County Jail on Felony Counts as Two Others Are Freed Under $2,000 Bond As Officials Use New Tactics
            County Attorney Wadlington Saturday declared war on Pontotoc county bootleggers and by late Saturday night seven men were being held in the county jail and two others were free under $2,000 bond each following raids headed by Sheriff Clyde Kaiser . . . . Wadlington filed felony counts against seven men arrested in liquor raids made Friday night by sheriff deputies and members of the city police force.
            Bewildered over the turn of events and facing the felony counts for the first time, three of the men, bill Cummings, Thurman "Cowboy" Hice and Chester Hice, asked for time to plead when arraigned before Peace Justice A. W. Oliver . . . .
            In invoking a little-used law in liquor possession cases--a misdemeanor ordinarily--Wadlington charged the seven with liquor possession, "a second and subsequent offense,”  Conviction carries a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine or five years in the state penitentiary.
            In the series of raids Friday night, deputies and police officers confiscated 329 pints of whiskey, gin and alcohol.
            In the raids Friday night . . . 73 pints from Thurman Hice . . . . , 31 pints from Cummings, the officers reported.  The others were picked up and committed on old fines and sentences.
            The raids were made by Sheriff Kaiser, Deputies Joe Porter, Charles Shockley and Jim Rogers, Police Chief Raymond Rains, Policemen G.W. Vandiver and Luther Davis and Deputy U. S. Marshall Allen Stanfield.

The Ada Weekly reported on 27 April 1939 and 1 June 1939 that Thurman and Chester Hice were again charged with felonies for illegal possession of whiskey.

After 1939, Hice does not appear in the Ada Weekly again until 1946 – presumably after his stint as a Private in the U.S. Army during World War II. 

On October 17, 1946, The Ada Weekly News reported that Thurman paid two fines of $45 each for two charges brought against him for, again, the illegal possession of whiskey. After 1946, Thurman Hice disappears. The only other record I have been able to find for him is from California’s Death Index. Thurman “Cowboy” Hice died November 18, 1988, in Sacramento, California.

Thurman and his brother Chester are my biological 2nd cousins 2x removed.

[1] Logsdon, Guy. “Moonshine.” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, (accessed 24 Oct 2018).