Notes taken from tape recording "gab fest" at the home of Lyman McBee, south of McBee Chapel, with his mother, Mrs. Carrie Lee (Shrum) McBee, wife of John McBee; Mrs. Ike Spitzer, Mary McBee; and Mrs. Roger McBee of Richmond, Missouri, and occasionally Mrs. Ramona (Murray) McBee, Lyman's wife, 5 September, 1972:
Talking recording session opened with Carrie Lee showing us a tintype of J.W. and Elizabeth (Sis) McBee and the eight children born to them by that time. Background was the home place, as it originally began. (NOTE: the picture I have is of them and the 17 children,including my ggrandmother which many in Braymer are related through since they had large families)
Carrie: "That's the house before they put the front room on. Mary, can you remember when it didn't have the front room on?"
Mary: ('No. But I can remember when they built that little house back there -- I mean the bath on the back, but I can't remember when they didn't have the front like it is now."
Carrie: "I can kind of remember it, but, of course, I'm older than you are. See, there was a little portico up there in front. This little porch (pointing to the tintype), and the two rooms--the kitchen and the bedroom, and then there was this little porch, here. What we call the portico was a little open place, you could walk out on it--on top of the rooms--you didn't have any roof on it. Let's see, there was about 8 children. And this back here was the colored maid."
Virginia: "What was her name?"
Carrie: "I never did hear anybody say anything about her except this tintype and there she was."
Virginia: "Didn't you say something once about Indians?"
Carrie: "Well, on the Shrum side, see, John and my father were double cousins. And they used to always say that the Shrums had some Indian in them. But, now, where it came from I don't know. Because Grandma Shrum was a Davis from up by Black Oak, and then the Shrum boys. They were German and they just came in here. We do have -- I have the copies -- that Grandpa Shrum -- He wrote a letter to some of the Shrums elsewhere South of here -- well, he wrote that he had settled up here five miles north of Tinney's Point and that it was good land and for them to come up here if they were interested. And that's as far as we have anything on the Shrums. But Grandma Shrum was a Davis and I think her mother was a Moad."
Virginia: "Tell me about the McBee Chapel, please, Carrie."
Carrie: "Well, I wrote this piece for Carrollton. It's about as much and as nice as anything." (Copy of this at end of recording session.)
Virginia: "Did they fix the cemetery at the same time as the church?"
Carrie: "No, I don't think they did, but the land was all given at the same time, however. In the deed it says that it will revert back to the original owners whenever it is not used for church. It's like the old school deeds used to be. That land it was on was Levi's. The Heirs are (or would be) Elmer, Jim and Dave. Well, Jim has no heirs. His died. And Elmer's has Ina and Nelson down in Arizona. And Dave has Lucille and Eileen. Eileen's out in California. And Lucille, maybe, I think. in Kansas City. Of course, they probably don't even know. Every year we hear from Belle and Ina and Nelson. We hear from them at Christmas time. We write a little note back and forth."
Virginia: "When did the chapel Burn'
Carrie: 1933 or 34, well, it was rebuilt the same year. They built it right back. Oh, it was 1934-35 on the rebuilding. I know it was before we moved back here, because that was in 1936. They hadn't been having services much -- just some preacher would come in. They weren't having them regularly. And then when it burned, they just jumped right in and built it back, and the interest increased, and it really helped."
Virginia: Was this the house they moved to when they moved across the road?" (Ray-Caldwell County line road is meant and understood by all talking.)
Carrie: "Well, he moved the house across the road and there was an L on the back of it, and he moved that little back part and then I think he built this on it. There used to be -- you could see where the foundation was behind the house, you know, where the L had gone back there. But they took it off. They might not have taken it off until they built that room on the front."
Mary: "I should remember about it but I don't. Don't have that kind of memory, I guess."
Carrie: "Well, they built that front room on about -- well, she died in 1915 and it was built on there before that."
Mary: "I remember we all used to go over there every Sunday. We all liked to go to grandma and grandpa's. I was 13 when she died--I can remember that."
Carrie: "I do, too. I remember Mama going up there. I don't remember much myself but I remember Mama going up there when she was sick."
Mary: "But I don't remember the house being across the road, either. That would be too far back for me to remember."
Virginia: 'I didn't find any writings about that -- Carrie is the one who was telling me."
Carrie: "Yes, it' s too far for me, too. It was over on the south and a little bit east of the barn and that made them in Ray County and the children had to go to school in Tinney's Point. It was a long ways down there and it was a wild and wooly place. So when they made this district in Caldwell County, why my Grandmother and Grandfather Shrum were living down there on what we always called The Forty, Lyman's got it now, and they moved over a mile North -- see, they had that land through there --"
Mary: "Where John had --"
Carrie: "Where you folks used to live. Well, they moved over there, and J. W. moved across the road and then all of them went to school. Before that I don't think they'd gone to school very much. Dad was the same age as Wass, and Mose was younger. (Dad refers to Carrie's father, who was Lee (Samuel Levi), second son of Caroline McBee and Calvin Shrum.) They had started to school, but then they moved so that they were in Caldwell County."
Virginia: "Let's see, where were they married, J. W. and Sis?"
Carrie: "You know where Doyle has the barn where the house burned -- you go on up on top of the next hill and there was a house on the North side of the road there (Jim Baker' s got that now), but, before you get to the corner--it' s on the next hill, from Doyle' s place, east.''
Mary: "McKnights used to live there."
Carrie: "Yes, well, that was the Moorman place, well, Moorman was a Justice of the Peace. They just went to his house. It was on a Sunday, you see, and you didn't have to have a license. You just went up and said you wanted to get married. It had to be some kind of an official, however. You see, she lived up there east of the church, up there where Clifford Davis lives and she had these children and it was during war times. (NOTE: This refers to Elizabeth Huston McBee, widow of James William McBee. He died in 1863.) The father had died and he was buried at Tinney' s Point. I think he died about the time the war started. The bushwhackers would come through the countryside. The older boys were all grown up and most of them married, and settled around. J. W. (he was the youngest one) was at home yet, and I've heard my grandmother, you see, she was his sister, tell that when the bushwhackers were in around the countryside, they'd dress Bill up in girl' s clothes -- there were quite a few girls of them, and several still at home--and the girls and Bill would
be out picking corn, you know, or working the fields. He wasn't to talk or say anything so they could pass him off as a girl, because he was old enough that the bushwhackers would have dragged him off to war right then if they had seen him just around. This was guerrilla warfare at the time. And that's how he escaped being in the Civil War."
Virginia: "When did they start calling him J. W.?"
Carrie: "Mostly, they called him Uncle Bill, and he didn't like Bill or William, and all these younger ones, why, he told them to call him J. W. His own dad was dead then, and it wasn't confusing."
Virginia: "Was his father's name James William, the one that came here from Ohio? He went by James all the time."
Carrie: "Yes, William, I think. He's the one that went up by Kingston and had a sawmill and didn't go to Oregon when the others went. And then he moved down here."
Virginia: "How long was he up at Kingston, do you know? " (Note: Caldwell County records burned in 1860, and again the whole courthouse burned in 1893, so it is almost impossible to get early records from Caldwell County, of which Kingston is county seat.)
Carrie: "I never did know for sure. There isn't anything which ever tells how long. You see, that was long about war time and how he died, I never have heard anybody say. But they did say that when they made this cemetery up at McBee Chapel, they thought they'd move his body. But when they dug in, they got a woman's button shoe, so they closed it back up. His name's on the monument up here, however, and there's also a stone down in Tinney's Point Cemetery. I Believe J. W. put that up, but they were never sure just where the grave is."
Virginia: "Seems odd that the older ones, Levi and Thomas, and William were the ones who pulled up stakes after 17 years here and went to Oregon and most of the younger ones stayed. William was the one Grandmother Rachel Riley McBee stayed with, wasn't he?"
Carrie: "Yes, and she went to Oregon, too, of course."
Virginia: "I didn't realize at first that she was about 82 when they left here."
Carrie: "Yes, and she had already come a widow down from Ohio with her children down the river and across land to here."
Virginia: "Yes, and since she was perhaps born in Maryland, there's another trip for her, too.
Carrie: "I always said if the McBees had the 'go,' they could blame it back on that grandmother."
Mary: 'That's where we all get it, I guess."
Carrie: "Well, James was married and somewhat settled down, I guess, but the older ones were too, so I guess they just left it to each one to choose to come along or not. You know, Henry didn't have any children--he lived in Chillicothe. I think I can remember J. W. and us going up to see him once, in awhile, drive a team and all go. The ones that moved to Texas were J.W.'s brother's bunch --Dave. He lived up here on the corner North side of the road just before McBee Chapel. He built that house, where Allen Watkins lives. I said they must have done good jobs of building in those days. They've fixed it over a little bit, but it's still that original house Dave built.
"Of course, now, your grandmother and granddad -- they had a house South of the road in Ray County, and it burned. J.W. always said he came in at noon, along with the hired hand, for dinner. She wasn't to have dinner ready until he got there. She didn't have (see, he was about 10 years or more older than her, and she was kind of like a little kid at first, marrying so young, and all). She saw them coming, and she didn't have dinner ready, so she got up a lot of cobs and put them in the cook stove to hurry up dinner and she got the house on fire and the house burned down. It was burning down when he got there. J.W. always said, "A woman of small discretion's, in order to get dinner cooked one time, why, she burned the house down.' And then they built a house back on the South side, so she was just a child almost, when that happened"
Virginia: "Do you know anything about that trip that J.W. and Nell and Annie, and one of the boys took? Was it Sam who went?"
Carrie: "No, that was Cal. They went in a covered wagon to Texas, no, I Believe it was Colorado, or maybe both."
Mary: "Were they living in Sam's house then? Or did they move into Sam's house when they got back? Or was that when Dad's moved into Sam's house?" (Dad here would be Moses McBee, third son of J. W. and Sis.)
Carrie: " I don't know about that. Nell should, but I don't know. She was pretty good age when they went, she should know. When they left this Home Place up here, and went over across the creek, that was Shrum land, and that she had hired (rented). And they built that big house over there so that the kids would be closer to go to school, those younger ones. Can you remember that big house, Mary? "
Mary: "Yes, I can remember it very well." Carrie: "That was the headquarters."
"That was Grandma's, Next up was Aunt Annie Ethertons and up where Johnny Kellys did live--that belonged to Harriet, didn't it? And Uncle Sam Shrum was South, wasn't he?"
Carrie: "I think so, yes, probably it was. My Grandpa Shrum, he was John--see, they were over here on the land with the McBees--she was a McBee. But they had some land, I think, down on the creek."
Mary: "Sam and Annie were there, though."
Carrie: "But they traded it in to J. W. and her. She took that, gave to Cal and Annie, because they were hard of hearing. They weren't married yet, either."
Virginia: "How much land did J. W. and the boys farm around here, anyway?"
Carrie: "They just had 80 acres in Caldwell County. And then the rest of theirs was in Ray County. They had 80, and Willy piece they've got on both sides of the road, that'd be 80 and 160 on the West side of the road. That'd be 320 acres in Ray and 80 acres in Caldwell, making 400 acres altogether. All Willy's and then the Caldwell, making 400."
Ramona: "How about the corner piece?"
Carrie: "No, that on the corner was Grandma Shrum's, then Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim had that. They lost that in the Depression. Then while Lyman was in Korea, it sold at the courthouse and John bought that piece, 40 acres."
Ramona: "It was Toomay land, then."
Carrie: "Yes, it was Toomay then. They'd had a mortgage on it, and during the Depression they turned it over to Toomays. J.W. never did farm that place. It always belonged to Grandma Shrum and they had lived up there. I can remember when Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim were first married--they lived in a little one or two room house there, for a year or so, then they moved in with Grandma."
Virginia: "Was this Negro woman the only one they ever had helping her? I was thinking about all those children when they were too little to help."
Carrie: "No, until her own girls got big enough to help, she always had help in the kitchen, outside help. She would go to see about the ones away from home almost every day. John(her husband, one of J. W. and Sis's children) was one of the three little ones -- John, Frank and Charlie -- and he said that was their first chore every morning, to go and get the ponies hooked onto the buggy. Course first they had to be fed and then curried, and they would clean up the buggy while the ponies were eating. Later it was a carriage, but always hooked with the team and waiting outside until she got ready to go to see the married ones. He (J.W.) drove a single horse with a buggy, but first they got hers, then his. John said if they didn't have the ponies curried up right, they had to go and do
it over again. And if the carriage was dirty it had to be washed, so it would always be clean for her.
"In those days, why, a silk dress, it was just the top of the world. Well, she had TWO silk dresses. I can remember my mother telling about that--she said if she had one, she was tickled pink, but Sis had two dresses: one black and one gray. She went to all these different meetings. I can remember some of my aunts: up at Cowgill telling about her at a church meeting. She had on a gray one then. They were introducing everyone, and no one would Believe she had 17 children. Well, actually, she had several grandchildren, even, by that time. (With another old picture, this time one of all 17 of the McBee children of J.W. and Sis's, no background, and taken in 1899, with Charlie a babe in arms, about 4-5 months old.) Let's see, there'd be Labe, and Wass and Mose. That little one would be Willie, wouldn't it? Carrie was the first of the girls before Willie, and then Annie after Willie. Bess, Sam, Cal, Joe, the twins."
Virginia: "Who's the oldest, Nell or Net?"
Carrie: "I don't really know. It does make a difference, though, but I always had a feeling that Net was, because according to the way that they say they respond."
Mary: "I think so, too, she always took the lead. That's the way with Ike's twin granddaughters out there, of Virginia's--the one born first always takes the lead." (Speaking of the grandchildren of her husband, Ike Spitzer.)
Carrie: "Well, Dr. Goldberg says it's so. He's always inquiring about any twins around. He says the second one always has the most sicknesses."
Virginia: "And after the twins is Marvin, then Esther (consulting written records to help verify order)."
Carrie: "Then John, here, and Frank, and Charlie. (laughing) Frank hates this picture because, see, he's got a dress on. In those days you didn't put pants on them until they were toilet trained (broken we called it)."
Mary: " I Don't know how many of them were married in this picture. Dad was, because Charlie and Eva are practically the same age."
Carrie: "Charlie's birthday was in April, and Eva in the fall, though."
Mary: " Quite a family--you know, I've always been kind of proud of that family of 17 kids though."
Carrie: "The thing of it is --when you stop to think of how many of us there are, and there hasn't ever been any of us in the penitentiary. I said we've never had any preachers, and we've never had any convicts. We had one preacher--Ray McBee, but he didn't have any sons.
He preached down at Mosby. He had a daughter, Betty, and she married a Slade. And I think Ray is buried down at Mosby. He's one of the New Hope McBees....David's line."
Mary: "You know, to take a family that size, and all the boys and men dressed that nice -- black suits, ties, and white shirts. Well, that's quite an accomplishment in any time."
Phone rang for Ramona, so now follows an obituary which Carrie Lee had:
from the Braymer Bee September, 1915
MOTHER GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Elizabeth Jane Shrum was born at the old Shrum homestead, 4 miles SW of the site of Braymer, Mo., February 6, 1858, and died at her home 5 miles SE of Braymer, September 21, 1915, aged 57 years, 6 months and 15 days.
On July 21, 1872, and at the tender age of 14 years, 5 months and 15 days, she was united in marriage to J.W. McBee. To this union 17 children were born, all of whom with the husband, one sister, Mrs. Annie Etherton, and one brother, Samuel Shrum, and a large number of relatives, mourn her death.
All of the 17 children except one daughter, Mrs. Bess Ficke, of Wheeler, Texas, were present at the funeral. In addition to her large family, she had 32 living grandchildren, never having lost but one.
Sister McBee professed religion and joined the church at McBee Chapel, October 17, 1889, under the ministry of Dr. Rev. W.C. Baird, now of Bogard, Missouri. She remained a consistent member of that church until the day of her death. During the last weeks of Sister McBee's lifetime, she was a great, but patient, sufferer. She waited the coming of her Lord ready to go. In calmness and peace she made some business transactions as if she were simply going on a journey. Everything that medical skill and nursing could do was done for her, but without avail.
What a mother she was, and how devoted she was to her family, and how much they will miss her can only be realized by her husband and children, to all of whom she was so devoted.
Her funeral was preached by the writer, who has known her 30 years. Her remains were laid to rest in McBee Cemetery and it was one of the largest funerals, and one of the most impressive ever held in NW Carroll County.
Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies... Proverbs.
John H. Hubbard
Carrie: "I remember when she was buried, too."
Virginia: "I asked Roger the other night what Daniel Severns' full name was. He studied awhile, and then sheepishly said, 'Grandpa Dan Severns.' He says he doesn't remember hardly anything about anybody back here."
Carrie: "And it wasn't important to them."
Mary: "I Can remember Grandpa Dan making us go down that row with a corn knife stripping that cane to make sorghum."
Virginia: "Roger says he can remember him picking out seed corn. You know, where they would have to 'nub' the ends, and then the kids would have to shell it."
Carrie: "Well, you were supposed to be an expert at it or you didn't do it."
Mary: "Yes, Dad (Mose) did that too, so he must have been good at it, too."
Carrie: "There were certain people who could do it, and the seed corn would grow, and others, it wouldn't."
Mary: "I remember Dad biting that little end and--"
Carrie: "Yes, to see how the heart was--to see if it was alive." Mary: "And look how they do today."
Carrie: "And a good fine difference in prices too. I remember when they first began that hybrid seed corn-John said it would never catch on, for it was too expensive. But now you can't afford to plant, and you can't afford not to, for it yields so much more."
Virginia: "Grandma Melissa, what caused her death, Mary?"
Mary: "T. B. or rather, she contracted pneumonia, but the T. B. had her so weak naturally, that she couldn't withstand illness."
Virginia: "Now I've gotten McBees and Severns all mixed up here, but it all pertains to the family, I guess. By the way, Carrie, are there any little incidents or funny stories they tell in the family about something that happened?"
Carrie: "Well, my dad used to tell about them going to Utica to get the lumber for the church. (Note: Utica is a very small village between Braymer and Chiliicothe. They used to go there for lumber, supplies and store goods.) He was just 13 years old but he could drive a team. And they sent just enough to bring the needed lumber back. It was a big church, that first one, bigger than the main part of the one they built after the fire (Note: It faced around the other way to the North. There were two big doors, and then the stove sat right inside the door), but of course, it didn't have any partitions in it or anything.
"And I've heard my Grandmother Shrum (she was a sister to J.W., you know) tell about that she did weaving (Note: this was Caroline McBee Shrum). She spun the yarn and did weaving for money. She had saved up her earnings and had gotten what she thought was enough to buy her a ready-made coat. She lived up here on this hill east of the chapel. She rode horseback to Utica (about 5 miles west of Braymer) to get her a coat. When she got up there she saw one that, oh! she just loved it. It was just what she wanted. But when she asked the price, she lacked just one dollar having enough. She said she'd just have to let it go, you know, and she was just getting ready to get on her horse and come home when the storekeeper came out and said she could have it anyway. So he let her have the coat for a dollar less than he had it priced. And she just always had a memory of that storekeeper, you know, it was one of the happy occasions in her life.
"And one of the dread occasions was when they used to dress Bill up in women's clothes to escape the bushwachers, for they were so afraid they were going to have him taken off."
Virginia: "Roger does remember something about the Home Place. He says his dad (Moses McBee, son of James and Elizabeth Shrum) told him he planted those walnut trees around the house."
Carrie: ('Yes, J.W. went out and plowed the furrows and then those older kids dropped the walnuts. It was two rows on the West and on the North. Yes, I've heard several of the older children tell that very story."
Mary: "I'm sure there wasn't a lazy one in the bunch--they all worked."
Carrie: "No, and when they built this big house across the creek, and when they moved over to that, John was one year old, and Nell was six years old. Well, then the boys stayed over here to do the farming--they batched--and that means there was two of them born across the creek then--Frank and Charlie."
Mary: "They called it 'just across the creek,' but it was that, well, it was Willow Creek."
Carrie: "Yes, Wi
little size, he liked to come over here with the big boys to work, but he was supposed to stay there and go to school. He said one morning, it was in the spring, for they had begun to do spring work, and it was still cold. He got up early and he was going to go over across to work, but his cap when he had hung it up the night before, had fallen down into the water bucket. So he grabbed it up anyway and put it on his head and took out for the Home Place afoot running, and when he got there, it was frozen to his head. But he thought it was still better than staying over there to go to school."
Virginia: "Now about this sawmill business? I thought all the McBees--that is the early ones, were pretty much farmers."
Carrie: "Yes, I did, too, but James did have that sawmill, so no telling where he learned that trade.
"You know, they left those girls in Ohio (Note: records show two: Nancy Margaret and Elizabeth. The 7 boys came with their mother). One of them was the mother of Charles Reign, Scoville. His mother was one of the girls left in Ohio. And the year before John and J were married when we went to the State Fair, let's see that would be about 1921, Scoville held the devotional services that morning at the Fair, on Sunday morning. We know that we were kin to him, but we didn't go up to him and introduce ourselves or anything. We were courting and we couldn't be bothered with anything like that."
Mary: "Oh, Virginia, we were talking about when I taught J.W. to drive a car. He said, 'Mary, you've just got to help., me. Those boys (it was Charlie and John), I can't learn anything with them-they just say, do this and do that.' So I took him out and taught him to drive a car. And after that, he went down to Millville to see Clara Penny and to Kansas City, and everywhere. (It was a Model T, I think. Yes, a Model T. Coupe.)
Carrie: "Yes, and it had a vase on the side to hold fresh flowers. I used to have the vase but I don't know what happened to it."
Mary: "We have a right to be proud of being McBees."
Carrie: "Yes, I always said it was something to raise 17 kids to their full growth and all that and there's never been any of in a penitentiary. You can say truthfully that it's a good family all around, all things considered."