Thursday, February 11, 2016


This photo of my mother as a new mom showing off her first born is one of my favorites. It appears it was taken by a photographer instead of a home snapshot from that era.

I appreciate the pose the photographer took by placing Mother in profile to her son. The pose allows me to see a less structured look on her face instead of the typical forward facing image looking at the camera.  Because of this pose I see a woman who has bonded with her son and is in awe of him.

My parents' first born was named Robert Marshall Eakin. Like many babies of the time, Robert was born at home on September 8, 1939 at Whelen Spring; a tiny town in southern Arkansas. Whelen Springs was a sawmill town from its earliest times.  My father began working the J. A. Barringer Sawmill a few months after Robert was born.  What work he did at the sawmill is lost to time. No matter what his work entailed, it is certain it was not a high paying job.  All the sweeter to have a studio portrait of their first born.



Eakin, Nettie and Robert. Portrait. ca. 1939. Lin Eakin Watson Collection. Privately held by Lin Eakin Watson, Hot Springs, Arkansas.,_Arkansas, accessed February 2016.

"1940 U.S. Social Security Application of Doyle Lee Eakin.", accessed January 2016.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Each family has one of those photos they probably wish would never be shared. This vintage photo of me and my older siblings is probably the one for our family! I couldn't resist sharing it again.  This time with the blogosphere!

In this 1954 picture, we are still living in San Francisco. I believe this snapshot was taken in the backyard of the house near Dolores Park in the Mission District. We had good times in that park!

The photographer was most likely our Mother, who was more focused on us and our great Easter digs. She was probably taking the photo to share with family back home in Arkansas. Apparently she didn't see the clothesline with one of my brother's underwear air drying. If she did, it didn't register that she would be documenting our laundry drying on the clothesline for eternity. Although I was too young to understand, I bet there was quite a bit of laughter about his unmentionables once the film was developed!

In 1998, I decided all my siblings needed a copy of this photo for their Christmas gift with the five of us all decked out in our Easter Sunday best.  I found a local photo shop in our Honolulu neighbor where my husband and I were living at the time. I asked the store owner if he could enlarge the snapshot to a 5x7 size.  He agreed and as he started writing my order, he insisted that I crop out the underwear.  He apparently didn't agree with my sense of humor.  He didn't think my brother's underwear was an appropriate image for the enlargement! It took me a little persuading to leave the image of the whitey tighties hanging on the clothesline.  I'm glad I convinced him to leave in the undies, since my siblings and our Mother got a big chuckle that Christmas about this special family memory.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


For my posting this week, I'm asking readers for some help with a couple questions I have about these vintage photos that were in the belongings of my husband's maternal grandmother, Emma Jane Thomas nee Cook, 1899 - 1989. Based on their attire, accessories, and hairstyles, I feel the photos were made in the late 1890s to early 1900s. My first question is, have I correctly narrowed the timeframe for these portraits?

My second question, a much harder question than dating an old photograph, is who are these women? Without success, I've asked for nearly twenty years every relative that might recall something about them or a conversation they might have overheard about these ladies!  So everyone out there in the blogosphere--does anyone know who they are? Ok now that you've stopped laughing here are some more clues that I've gathered over the years.

  • Portraits likely taken in Hot Springs or Bismarck, Arkansas. 
  • They could be sisters or sister-in-laws
  • The flowers are gardenia mixed into the black ostrich feathers, probably to refresh/update an older hat.
  • Hats are high and each covers just to the edges of their Gibson Girl hairstyle, prominent in the late 1890s to early 1900s.
  • Hat brim may be a bowl shaped
  • No identifying marks are found on the backs of the pictures
  • Pictures appear to have been trimmed down to approx 1.5 to 2.0 inches 
These ladies' pictures have obviously been treasured over the last 100 plus years. It's a shame there is no identity to establish the history that can go along with the memories of these nameless ladies in fabulous hats!

I feel these ladies are ancestors of Emma Cook Thomas.  The reason I feel this way is based on a photo that was taken of Emma around 1945 that strongly resembles the lady on the left in the above portraits. 

Female ancestors in Emma's line that could possibly be one of the ladies could be her paternal grandmother, Adeline E. (Rogers) Cook, 1833-1915, her mother, James Elizabeth (Tinkle) Cook 1861-1919, or her eldest sister living to adulthood, Abagail "Abbie" Dorinda (Cook) Allen 1885-1952. Abbie may be a stretch, since she would have only been in her late teens at the turn of the century.

Emma's family had made it to Arkansas from Tennessee by the late 1850s, finally settling in the Bismarck area around the mid to late 1870s.  Her paternal grandfather, Roland Ronald Cook, Jr migrated from Henderson County, Tennessee some time after marrying Adeline Elizabeth Rogers.

Her grandfather farmed the land in south Arkansas until they moved their way north to Hot Spring County, Arkansas. This move must have taken a few years since about every other child was born in Bradley County or in Hot Spring County.  We do see the family on the July 25th 1870 census living in the Eagle Creek Community of Redland Township, Bradley County, and know by 1874 all of the family had transitioned to the Bismarck area since Emma's grandfather died at age 47 and is buried in the Old Bismarck Cemetery.

In 1878, Emma's father and mother are married and list their residences on their marriage license application as DeRoche, another small community near Bismarck. By the 1880 census, Emma's grandmother, Adeline Elizabeth (Rogers) Cook, better known as Elizabeth, is found in Hot Spring County near the small community of Valley, widowed and farming the land with her remaining seven children at home. They are living next door to her son James Monroe Cook (Emma's father) with his young family James "Jimmy" Elizabeth, going by Elizabeth at this time, and their first child, six month old Anna.

Emma was born, raised, married and raised her family in Bismarck. She is buried in the same cemetery as her parents and grandfather, Roland Ronald Cook Jr. Her grandmother, Adeline Elizabeth (Rogers) Cook is probably buried in Childress County or Fannin County, Texas, where she was living with family at the time of her death around 1915.


Cook, Unknown. Photographs. ca 1900. Digital image. Original images privately held by Lin Eakin Watson, Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Arkansas. Bradley County. 1870 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images.

Arkansas. Hot Spring County. 1880 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Arkansas, County Marriages Index, 1837 -1957 [database online], Provo, UT. Accessed January 29, 2016.

Kreisel Shubert, Betty. Out-of-Style: A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved. Mission Viejo:Flashback Publishing, 2013.     

Friday, January 22, 2016


Over my years of looking at this picture I always had fond memories. When i looked at the picture I saw the same thing, two of my siblings, some of my first cousins, and my grandparents. I saw a happy group of people in the front yard of my maternal grandparents' house in Beirne, Arkansas. 

When my mother was still alive, I never once asked her about the occasion for the picture. I guess it didn't occur to me it was a special occasion, probably because we had so many family gatherings at Granny Ross' house during my childhood.  I just assumed it was another gathering with some of our relatives on any given Sunday.  As I started piecing together the story behind the photo, it became clear to me my fond memories of this photo would soon turn to bittersweet memories, for now I see this occasion as the last trip made from San Francisco to Arkansas before the death of our father in December 1957. 

In this vintage photo, my grandparents, Robert "Pete" and Lennie Ross are surrounded by a few of their grandchildren.
In the back row, left to right is my sister Shirley Eakin, Robert Ross, Lennie Ross holding Paula (aka Polly) Dodgen and my brother Harry (aka Butch) Eakin.  In the front row are first cousins Brenda Dodgen, Janice Dodgen holding me Linnie (aka Lin) Eakin, Jeffrey Ross, and Karen Ross. This photo was probably taken sometime during the summer of 1956. Because I was four years old and have no recollection of this trip, I again have had to enlist my siblings' memories to help fill in the blanks. Now to paraphrase Paul Harvey, here's the rest of the story...

Sometime during the summer 1956, Mother took Shirley, Butch and me on a road trip to Beirne, Arkansas from our home in San Francisco to visit with her parents.  Mother must have been homesick, since Shirley recalls, "she just wanted to visit her mother" as the reason for the trip.  She left  Robert, Larry and Daddy at home to fend for themselves for about a month, probably more! What a trip it must have been to travel nearly 4000 miles round trip on a bus with three kids ages, 12, 10, and 5

According to my sister we traveled on a Scenicruiser. This new type of bus was Greyhound's newest concept introduced to their fleet just a couple of years before our journey. It was the new way to travel across America. The Scenicruiser had tasteful appointments, a full restroom with running water, air-suspension that made the ride feel like you were floating on air, and the piece de resistance, the panoramic window seats on top of the bus! 

As children will do, Shirley and Butch (and possibly me if they allowed me tag along with them) would rush at every stop to get the best window seats once available. Getting to sit in the panorama window seats on the bus was a dream for us little kids as we traveled the highways that Greyhound described as strips of velvet! 

We all probably had our favorite toy or book to help occupy our time on the bus. Shirley recalls she brought a library book with her on the trip and managed to lose it somewhere along the way. I'm sure Mother wasn't too happy about that and this event most likely added to the thrill of the trip.

Even if it was an American dream to travel on one of Greyhound's Scenicruisers, I can't imagine traveling on a bus from San Francisco to Gurdon, Arkansas, the nearest bus station to Beirne!  I doubt that the four of us felt at the end of the first leg of our journey that every mile was really as magnificent as the Greyhound company advertised!  I'm sure, however, the "complete washroom" was a godsend to Mother as we motored our way days-on-end to Arkansas. 

Back in California, Daddy and the other two boys stayed home since there wasn't enough money for all of us to go to visit our grandparents. The daily routine didn't stop just because we were on the road.  Daddy went to work downtown at the one of the tall buildings where he was a janitor.  When he left for work he left the teenage boys to their own devices. 

Robert spent most of his time working on his old car with a friend from church. According to Larry, he never got the car running well enough to drive much, if ever. Larry, almost 15 years old, spent his time working his paper route and swimming at the pool a couple of streets from the Army Street (now known as Cesar Chavez Boulevard) apartments where we lived. Mealtime wasn't too much of an adventure during our absence since Larry recalls the guys survived on "mashed taters and beans" during their month of freedom.

While in Arkansas, we visited as many of our relatives as we could.  We didn't need any money for our stay since we were fed and sheltered by relatives the entire time. The photo documents that Mother's siblings, Dale and Luscious came to their parents' house in Beirne, since all their children are in the picture. It was either a Sunday after church or we all decided to dress up for the Beirne photo shoot. Shirley recalls she was wearing a pink dress for the exciting shoot!  We were all dressed in our Sunday best, even Jeffery in his cute hat and suspenders.

On the return trip, both Shirley and Butch recall how hot it was at some of the stops.  Agricultural Quarantine Inspection sites were the norm at most state's borders.  Contraband fruits and vegetables were prohibited to cross borders, particularly into California where so much of the United States' produce was grown. When the bus stopped in Indio, California for a required agricultural inspection, we must have gotten off the bus for a while.  Butch recalls how he burned his hands on the hot metal handrails outside of the station.  It was an impressive, but not rare 120 degrees that day. While Butch was traumatized by the heat, Shirley was observing the little old ladies fainting from the intense heat as they walked from the bus!  It must have been a sight to see. Who knows if the inspectors ever found any contraband fruit or vegetables on the bus.

A happy group of people in the front yard will remain my main memory for this picture.  Now nearly sixty years laters I also see the future when I look at this picture.  I see the coming changes to our family and our eventual relocation to Arkansas after the death of our father. 



Eakin, Larry. Personal phone communication, 22 January 2016.
Eakin, Harry. Personal phone communication, 13 January 2016.
McElroy, Shirley. Personal phone communication, 12 January 2016.
PD-4501 Scenicruiser., accessed 13 July 2016.

Friday, January 15, 2016


This article was my annual submission to the 2014 Clark County (Arkansas) Historical Association's annual journal.  It was recognized in Spring 2015 by The Arkansas Historical Association's Committee on Awards for the Award for Best Biography, Autobiography or Memoir Published in a County or Local Historical Journal in 2014.

His death notice ran in the Southern Standard on March 17, 1877 notifying readers who had not heard about his recent death.   Andrew Jackson Ross, better known as A. J., died on 11 March 1877 at the age of 62 after living in the Bradshaw community for nearly 35 years.  He died at his residence.  He was buried in the Mount Pisgah Cemetery and was considered an old and highly respected citizen of Clark County.[1]
A. J. was born in Logan County, Kentucky on 25 November 1814. He migrated from Dallas County, Alabama to Clark County’s Bradshaw community around 1843 along with his siblings and parents, Peter and Temperance (Arnold) Ross.  Before settling in Clark County, Jack apparently made an advance trip for his father in July 1842 to purchase a 329 acre parcel of land from David Browning and his wife, Mary.  The land purchase set Jack’s father back about $1645 (about $48,500 in today’s value) for this acreage. A. J.’s signature as the witness and representative for his father was the only Ross signature on the deed.  The deed indicates that Peter Ross, purchaser of the parcel, is living in Dallas County, Alabama.  This suggests that Peter and Temperance travelled at a later date to settle in Arkansas, possibly sometime after February 1843 after the sale of his land in Alabama.[2]
A. J.’s commitment to Clark County’s Masonic Lodges and their philosophy of brotherhood was demonstrated by his longstanding memberships.  He was a Master Mason listed on the 1866 membership roll of the Arkadelphia Lodge No. 19 and in his later years, as a member of the Flanagin Lodge No. 88.  Because he was seen as a “worthy and well-beloved” member of the Flanagin Lodge at the time of his death, A. J. was buried with honors by his Masonic brethren.[3]   
Masonic burial protocols call for either the member in their life or the family after his death to agree to the funeral. The published Tribute of Respect in the local newspaper stands as proof that either A. J. had given his approval or his surviving family members, sons Lucius Osborn Ross and Robert Carroll Ross, agreed their father should be buried with the usual pomp and circumstance of a Masonic burial.[4]
On the day of A. J.’s death, Lucius prepared for his father’s funeral service by purchasing several necessities from a local dry goods store where he had an account.   He sent a note to J. W. Shaw Dry Goods & Groceries on Maddox Street in Arkadelphia to charge several clothing items for D. J. McDonald to his account.  Mr. McDonald, another high standing citizen of the County and the first president of the Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce may have been a friend of the family or possibly an important member of the funeral procession.  Mr. McDonald was to receive a pair of socks, a pair of low quartered shoes—size nine, a pair of large white gloves, and a white handkerchief.  It is assumed these items were intended to be worn by Mr. McDonald when attending A. J.’s funeral.[5]
Other items purchased on that same day, and written on the back of the same scrap of paper that was sent for Mr. McDonald’s funeral necessities, were items presumably for Lucius’ or Robert’s funeral dress.  The note that Lucius sent to the dry goods store requested another order to be charged to his account for a pair of shoes, a  pair of pants, a pair of gloves, a pair of half hose, a handkerchief, a vest, and ten gallons of bleaching.  These items totaled $17.00 and were charged to his account at Shaw’s Dry Goods and Groceries as requested on the 11 March 1877 note.[6] 
On March 12th, the day after A. J.’s death, the Flanagin Lodge Master called a special meeting of the members to plan his funeral service.  When the members were ready to begin the funeral service, it must have been a great sight-to-see on the country roads of the Bradshaw community.  Once the members were organized, they left Flanagin’s Lodge located near the Palestine Church, most likely dressed in their funerary attire prescribed by their Monitor.  The members possibly wore black pants and coats along with their top hats, white gloves, and white lambskin aprons trimmed in blue, the Masonic emblem of innocence. Their aprons would have been worn over their outer clothes with a black crepe armband placed on their left arms that would be worn for 30 days.  Finally, a sprig of evergreen placed on their left coat lapel served as a reminder that they themselves had imperishable spirits that would never die, just as their Brother Andrew Jackson Ross’ spirit would never die.[7]  
The procession of men marched to the Ross family house in Bradshaw where the body lay in state.  They probably marched in the order called for by their fraternity’s funeral custom—first was the Tyler, with his drawn sword, shrouded in black crepe. Next came the musicians, followed by the Stewards, with their blue and white rods wrapped in black crepe, then the Master Masons in attendance.  Next in formation would have been the Treasurer and Secretary, the Wardens, any past Masters, and the Bible bearer with a cushion covered in black fabric upon which the Bible, square, and compass would have been placed. The Bible would most likely have been carried by the oldest member of the Lodge.  After this segment of the funeral procession would come the Chaplain, followed by the Lodge Master, six pall bearers and finally mourners that would be joined by the others at the Ross home.[8]  
After arriving at the house, and continuing to follow the ancient tradition of the funeral ceremony, the procession would reposition at the entrance to the Ross home by forming two parallel lines that faced each other.  The Stewards would then cross their blue and white rods for members of the procession to walk through as they entered A. J.’s home.  First to enter would be the Lodge Master, followed by the Marshall, the other officers, but in reverse order, and finally the remainder of the brethren.  Once inside, the Master would take his place at the head of the coffin with the Senior and Junior Wardens on either side.  The Chaplain would take his place behind the Master, but slightly to the left.  The Bible Bearer would stand at the foot of the coffin.  The Stewards with their crossed rods would be positioned near the head of the coffin, while the Deacons would position themselves at the foot. The remainder of the Lodge members would then form a rectangle if space permitted, if not then a circle, around the ceremony’s officials who would already be in place.  Reverend Alexander B. Winfield, Minister of the Gospel, serving as the Chaplain for the Lodge, preached A. J.’s funeral sermon.[9]
Once the sermon was completed and the ceremony was performed by the Lodge Master, the members took their Brother’s body for interment in Mount Pisgah Cemetery. They would exit the home in the same order they entered, but the pall bearers would now carry Jack’s coffin with his apron lying upon it.  The procession from the Ross home to the cemetery would take quite some time to complete, as the distance from Andrew Jackson Ross’ home to Mount Pisgah Cemetery was almost four miles.  Joining the procession to the cemetery were his sons, Lucious Osborn and Robert Carroll Ross, along with their wives and children.  A. J.’s wife, Matilda Georgianna (Osborn) Ross, had preceded him in death three years prior.  He would be buried next to her in their final resting place.[10]
After the interment, the members marched once again in procession from the cemetery to Mount Pisgah Church.  The membership appointed a committee identified as William J. Spears, William J. Rowe, W.B. Pullam, W.D. Bridges, and W.C. Justice to write a resolution “that would be suitable for the occasion.”  The resolutions drafted were entered into the Lodge’s records as a memorial to their departed brother, copied and given to the Ross family, and published in the Southern Standard.[11]
The committee adopted the following:
Whereas, death has called from our midst and from his home, children, neighbors and friends, and from the duties of life to enjoy those of a higher one in another state of existence, our late well-beloved brother and member of our Fraternity, A. J. Ross, who died March 11th, 1877.  Therefore,
Resolved. That in his removal, we are reminded of life’s uncertainty and the saddening with it may terminate by an All Wiser Ruler, and whilst we bow submissively to the will of Him who doeth all things well; yet, we cannot, being mortals, refrain from deploring our great loss, with a pleasing hope that ours is his eternal gain. 
Resolved. That our deceased Brother was faithful, conscientious, upright and an honest man, and in the discharge of his duties in the Church, in the Lodge and neighborhood, he was ever true to the important trusts committed to him, and above all an honest man. 
Resolved. That a page of our Record be dedicated to this memory, on which shall be inscribed, to the memory of Brother A. J. ROSS. 
Resolved. That we wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty days. 
Resolved. That a copy of these Resolutions be furnished his family to whom our sympathies are extended, and that copy be furnished the SOUTHERN STANDARD, for publications.

A. J. and Matilda Ross lie today in Mount Pisgah Cemetery, an abandoned cemetery on private property just off Central Road. Their headstone is still standing but shows the sign of age and neglect after 137 years.  Made of American marble and ordered through Anderson Brothers from Southern Marble Works in Prescott, Arkansas, the headstone was delivered to Arkadelphia on December 25, 1877 for placement.  In the tradition of Masonic symbolism, the double headstone has clasped hands within the cross’ union.  Lucius and Robert possibly chose this detail specifically because it was sometimes used by the Masons to depict unity and devotion to Masonic Brethren.  This headstone, one of only six remaining in this once vibrant Clark County cemetery, reminds us that Andrew Jackson Ross’ spirit is imperishable.[12] 


[1] Spears, W. J., Rowe, W. J., Pullam, W. B., Bridges, W. D., and Justice, W.C. “Tribute of Respect." Southern Standard.  (March 1877): 3.                    
[2] Andrew Jackson Ross, Family Bible Records, 1814 – 1903, The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Philadelphia: Jesper Harding, 1851), “Marriages”; privately held by David Charles Ross II, Henderson, Nevada.  The Bible appears to be a gift, but the reason for the presentation is unknown.  Also unknown is if it was presented to Andrew and Matilda Ross or one of their children sometime after the 1851 publication date. The data pages have multiple handwritings and assumed to have been handed down from Andrew Jackson Ross to Robert Carroll Ross, to Robert Stanley Ross, to David Charles Ross, and most recently to David Charles Ross, II.; Clark County, Arkansas, Deeds, B: 118-19, David M. Browning and Mary J. Browning to Peter Ross, deed, 21 July 1842; Office of Register of Deeds, Arkadelphia.; Williamson, Samuel H., "Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present," MeasuringWorth, 2014.; Ross Chappell, The Ross Family Beginning 1734 in Hanover County, Virginia (USA: Bluebird Books, 2005), 226 – 231.
[3]Desmond Walls Allen, Abstracts from Masonic Records Grand Lodges of Arkansas 1870- 1872 (Conway, AR: Arkansas Research, Inc., 2004), 72 – 73.
[4] Spears, et al, “Tribute of Respect,” Southern Standard, 17 May 1877.   
[5] Clark County, Arkansas, Probate Records: file “Ross, A.J., 1877”; Riley-Higginbotham Library Special Collections.; Richter, Wendy, editor, “Clark County Arkansas: Past and Present (Walsworth Publishing Co, 1992) 98.
[6] Clark Co., AR, Clerk of the Probate Court File Records: file “Ross, A.J., 1877.”
[7] Washington Monitor 1947—proxy used for funeral protocols
[8] Washington Monitor and Freemason’s Guide; 1947 pages 133 – 160.  Funeral service instructions from the 1947 Washington Monitor and Freemason’s Guide lay out the protocol of various types of funeral services that could be held for a Masonic burial.  The instructions in this Monitor are very similar to the tribute of respect in the Southern Standard newspaper.
[9] Spears, et al, “Tribute of Respect,” Southern Standard, 17 May 1877. ; Desmond Walls Allen, compiler, Abstracts from Masonic Records Grand Lodge of Arkansas 1870-1872, (Arkansas Research Inc. 2004) 73.
[10] Allen B. Syler, compiler. Clark County, Arkansas, Obituaries and Death Notice, 1869 – 1900, Vol 1, (Arkansas Research, Inc., 2007) 22.                     
[11] Spears, et al, “Tribute of Respect,” Southern Standard, 17 May 1877.
[12] Clark Co., AR, Probate Records: file “Ross, A.J., 1877.”, Arlis Graham, Clark County Cemeteries Vol. II Arkadelphia Area (Clark County Historical Association, 2009), 10.