Friday, May 4, 2012

The Wild, Wild West, Part III

The summer I turned 13 I spent several weeks in Texas with my Aunt Zudie and Uncle Bailey Thames. Aunt Zudie was my father's only sibling, two years his senior. While I was visiting them, my aunt and uncle took me to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. It is an absolutely awesome place. I'd like to see it again through adult eyes!

There is lots of information about Carlsbad Caverns on the Internet; I bring it up because of another of the few stories I heard about my McLaughlin ancestors when I was a child. One had to do with Carlsbad Caverns, and was told to us by our Dad. About fifteen years ago, I wrote down what I remembered of family stories. What I remembered about Carlsbad Caverns was that my grandfather had been offered an opportunity to share in developing them as an attraction by the man who owned or was exploring them, but turned it down. My sister Terry, who is four years older than me and thus able to have a clearer recollection of these things, fleshed out my memories with hers.
. . . it was Granddad that wouldn't go into the Carlsbad Cavern venture because every time he tried to drill a water well he came up with a big hole and no water and he was too disgusted about that to want any more to do with the place. Daddy told us the name of the man who wanted to cash in on the Carlsbad Caverns, but I don't remember it anymore. I keep thinking that it could have been White, but it probably wasn't. Apparently they had all been homesteaders in the area at one time or another. [I've looked it up, and Terry, who has an excellent memory, was correct. The explorer of Carlsbad Caverns, who spent years working to bring it to national attention, was Jim White. When it became a National Monument, he was the first chief ranger.]
Joseph Addison Neatherlin
Another fragment of family lore concerned Joseph A. Neatherlin. Again, I remembered a little of this story and Terry filled it out with what she remembered.
The Civil War story was about Daddy's great-grandfather on his mother's side of the family. Daddy remembered him and he still had his saber from the war when Daddy was a child. He told the story about the handsomest man he had ever seen. [Which was that in battle he came face to face with the handsomest man he had ever seen, and he "ran him through."] Daddy said that his great-grandfather was a wiry little man with dark coloring. He also was supposedly of Irish extraction.
Joseph Addison Neatherlin died in 1922 at the age of 91; my Dad would have been 13 that year.

Henry C. McLaughlin
in the 1990s
Daddy's grandfather on the other side of his family, Henry C. McLaughlin, also fought in the Civil War on the Confederate side. The only story that came down to us about that was that Henry had a brother who fought on the Union side. These ancestors were not slave owners. According to my dad, the war was about State's Rights, not about keeping slaves. And for the majority of southerners who were not slaveholders, I expect that is true. People who gave up homelands and ventured to settle in a land they'd never seen, and their descendants who spread out across that land and endured much hard work and hardship to make it home, definitely had a spirit of independence and did not like being told what to do!

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