- Books, Literature, and Writing
THE PIECES OF MY PUZZLE
In the center of town there sat a row of stores that supplied the people of Porterville and it's surrounding counties. The town had been built in the early eighteen hundreds by Jesse Porter who had left the hills of North Carolina in the hope of a better life for his family. Jesse and his wife Sarah Elizabeth produced two sons and five daughters all of which were born in North Carolina several years before Jesse moved his family to Kentucky. You see, both Jesse and Sarah Elizabeth and their offspring were a little more dark complexioned than most white people. They were labeled as Free Persons of Color and weren't permitted to own land and without land it would be difficult to progress in a hill country. So, along with Sarah's brother Thomas Collins and his wife and children, Jesse set out across the hills into the eastern part of Kentucky.
The way was rough but with each other's help they came through the mountains and scoped out a bottom land that lay to the north of a small river where they set up a camp and, eventually they began pulling trees to start building their homes. Over the years, they learned of the towns that carried supplies, to which they would enlist wagons to travel the many miles to replenish their cupboards and any need they may have. Sometimes it would take weeks for the wagons to return, with certain conditions of the weather.
Jesse and Sarah's youngest daughter Amelia had developed a chronic cough and her weight had dropped noticeably after the group had settled by the river. It was thought to have been seasonal chest colds but the cough was dry and seemingly constant. The condition would come and go at it's own will. Through her childhood years, her condition brought limits as to what she could do and she became her mother's shadow and followed Sarah everywhere she went. It was more Sarah's way of keeping a close eye on the child to give her a peace of mind.
Every so often a wagon would pass their settlement and would relay news from the neighboring towns.It was learned of a settlement down the river that had been started by a preacher of the gospel whose name was Elijah Morgan. Preacher Morgan had built a church and all the surrounding communities had been attending his services on Sunday once a month. Jesse and Sarah would gather up the family along with Thomas and his family and would spend that Sunday of the month for traveling to Morgantown with a picnic lunch in baskets.
Up the river and farther north, there was a settlement started by Samuel Baker. The settlers of Bakersville would also attend Preacher Morgan's services. Acquaintances and friendships were made by the families of those towns and, in their children's maturing, there produced marriages and offspring between the three settlements of Porterville and Morgantown and Bakersville.
It was Preacher Morgan's son Clayton who chose Amelia to be his wife at her young age of sixteen. They chose to settle in Morgantown until Clay got the notion of traveling farther west closer to the center of the state. The news of work in the bigger cities had triggered his itch to make money. Whether for his family or for himself was no matter because he wanted a better life. Amelia went along agreeably following her husband. To both of their surprise, the longer they lived in the town of Mason her health improved greatly. Mason was the town closer to the center of the state and was a prospering town according to what the young couple had seen in their life. The circle street in the middle of town branched off to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west with two and three storied buildings in a row in each direction. The central court held the main buildings for the courthouse, the jail, the doctor's office, and the main supply shops, a bank and a church with a steeple and bell to sound the time for church services on Sundays along with the town's barbershop.
Clay had been apprenticed in the art of leather crafting by his uncle Hiram Morgan and he had plans of starting his own saddle shop and leather repair post and what better place to put it than the main road through-way to the four neighboring states. He started by working in the livery stable and was later given a corner of the stable for his leather crafting for a portion of the profits. Business got so good for Clay that he had to move to a separate shop next door to the livery.
All was going pretty well for Clay and Amelia. As Amelia's health improved she gave Clay three sons and two daughters during the twenty years of their being in Mason. Clay heard of the ferry boats and tugboats traveling up and down the Kentucky and Ohio rivers and got the notion of moving farther north to the Ohio border. Kaytown was in his sight, so, that's where they would go. The closer they got to the city of Kaytown, Amelia could smell the air coming off of the river and, not realizing it, she would feel the affects of that air in a very short time.
Since coming to Kaytown, Amelia's health had went down considerably. The dry cough of her younger days returned to plague her life. Her daughters Louisa and Abigail had become her strength. Even though Clay prospered in his business, Amelia grew more ill with each passing year of their being in Kaytown. The river city was filled with buildings with smokestacks burning coal for fuel and the air became thick with the smoke. Tugboats chugged along at a slow pace up and down the river. Noise was constant. Even the nights were filled with pleasure seekers and brawling from the saloons down at the waterfront section of town. Amelia did not like living in Kaytown. It seemed to be a place of no rest. She longed to return to Mason and the more peaceful setting because her nerves had begun to shatter from all the noise and hubbub.
Clay saw the change that had happened to his wife and pondered taking her home to Porterville with the hope that she might recover. Their daughter's lives were filled with constantly caring for her with no time spent on their future. Maybe in Porterville or Morgantown there can be a relief for them all. Clay suggested this to Amelia and she agreed but only if he would stay behind with his business until he got ready to follow them. So, they made the agreement to go separately to Porterville. Clay and Amelia's two younger sons Joshua and Caleb, along with the two daughters Louisa and Abigail set out with Amelia to bring her back to her family in Porterville. Their oldest son Matthew stayed behind with Clay.
Thinking better of traveling the ridges east to Porterville, Abigail made the decision to travel down southward back to Mason to see Dr. Bradley about their mother before taking her on to Porterville. Luckily, he may have a remedy for her illness. Dr. James Bradley was a widower with one son. The doctor's wife had died giving birth to the child who would be seven by now. Before leaving Mason to move to Kaytown, Abigail had become smitten by the doctor's gentle character. The way he cared for his little baby son had drawn her heart to him all the more. Shaking the thought of him out of her head, she reasoned to herself that he may be re-married by now. Even so, her mother needing to be checked before going on to Porterville.was the important issue now.
Stepping down from the wagon, Abigail looked around at the town. Everything was still the same except for evidence showing that Dr. Bradley had built onto his office by adding a wing with a row of five windows giving evidence to the fact that a number of beds had been added to the small hospital. Her eyes caught sight of a buggy hitched to a post outside of the office as though it were ready to be used. Dr. Bradley frequently made house calls as far away as Stinnett which was twenty miles outside of town. Abigail hurried into the office front doorway hoping to catch him before he left.
The first thing she saw was a partially gray haired man standing by the entrance to the Dr.'s office with a medical bag in his hand. Still lean and tall but the years had aged him. Even though his eyes had a weariness to them, Abigail recognized him instantly and he seemed to recognize her.
"Abigail?" he asked with a surprised look on his face.
After greeting one another, Abigail told him of her mother and how her sickness had come back and how it was seemingly worse. He was quick to make his way outside to the wagon where Amelia lay on a bed of quilts with Louisa close by her side.
With the Dr.'s instructions, the boys brought their mother into the building and followed the doctor through the front room and on into a room with a row of beds along each wall. A young woman in starched white clothing came from the direction of the hallway and proceeded to where they had laid Amelia on a small bed. She looked up at the doctor for instruction and was promptly told what to do for Amelia.
Dr. Bradley would keep her there and examine her and try to figure out what the problem was. Abigail felt a relief at knowing her mother would be checked out.
This was the town where they lived when Amelia was seemingly her healthiest. Even her dry cough had gone away while they lived here in Mason.
With the boys settled in to spend the night with Dr. Bradley, and since Amelia was the only patient there, Abigail and Louisa were allowed to sleep near their mother in hospital beds.
The next day the doctor advised Abigail to keep Amelia in Mason for a few months to see how she improved and then maybe move on to Porterville. So, Abigail set out looking for a room at the boarding house for Amelia, Louisa, and herself and sent the boys on to Porterville to stay with their grandparents Jesse and Sarah.
The doctor suggested that the river air may be what's making their mother sick and causing her cough. The best thing for Amelia would be to keep her warm and away from any dampness for awhile.
The longer they stayed in Mason, the more Amelia would improve. She even gained a little weight with the increase of her appetite. Louisa had taken a job cooking for Laura Spencer, the woman who ran the boardinghouse, while Abigail attended to Amelia. This offered Abigail every opportunity to see Dr. Bradley when he came to check on Amelia. These opportunities had proven to her that she cared for him more than she knew. The days that his son came with him, Abigail had formed a motherly bond with the boy and the doctor could not help but notice this. He had been asking Abigail to dinner with him and his son and to her delight had asked her to marry him, after three months of spending time together. Her obvious answer was yes. And so started the next generation with Abigail and James Bradley producing three girls and three boys.
Amelia's boys came back and forth between Porterville and Mason bringing news to Amelia about her family back in the mountains. Amelia's mother Sarah had been stricken with a blindness and her father Jesse was suffering from gout. The boys had agreed to stay with their grandfather and help with the farm.
Amelia kept in touch with her husband Clayton and their son Matthew as much as the mail could get to them. Clay had closed his shop and was ready to follow Amelia back to Mason and promised her he was ready to stay settled there.
Louisa fared well in Mason and married a young man from that town and had a family of her own.
It was September 26, 1997. Everything and everyone seemed to be in such a rush now days.The cars going by so rapidly had caused me to become disoriented and the smell from all the exhaust was making my stomach churn. For the past few years I had developed a cough that would not go away. Bronchitis would get on my chest every now and then, when I was growing up but the past few years I had developed a dry cough that would persistently wear me out. On one of my many visits to the doctor trying to get relief, a chest x-ray showed a scar formation that resembled tuberculosis and the doctor sent me to a lung specialist in the city. So, the doctor scheduled me for a bronchoscopy in outpatient. A bronchoscopy is where is where I was put to sleep and the doctor took a piece of my lung and tested it for disease. He had already taken blood and with the lung procedure would try to find out what was causing the cough.
My weight had dropped as well and my skin had become swarthy and pale. I had just not been feeling well at all and had gotten desperate for help as to why.
My husband Rubin helped me cross the busy street to the hospital entrance and we were told where to go from there by a young lady at a window.
The procedure took about half an hour and I stayed in the recovery for about an hour and was allowed to go home. I would find out the results in about a week.
The diagnosis was sarcoidosis an auto immune disease that can affect any part of the body and mine was in my lungs. It also explained the tiredness that I often felt and the weight loss.
At least I knew why I was so sick and that it can be managed to allow me to live as normal life as I can. Steroids was my treatment for a few months at a time if my body showed signs of needing them and the gaps got farther and farther apart to where I could do without them.
In finding out what I had, I did research on my computer and in the library hoping to learn all I could about it. From the stories told in my family history, my great-grandmother Amelia Porter Morgan had lung trouble and some of the possible symptoms were part of my ancestry. My great, great, great grandfather Jesse Porter had a severe case of gout that debilitated him. My great, great, great grandmother Sarah Collins Porter had been stricken with a blindness. All down the line was aunts with rheumatoid arthritis that had developed at a fairly young age. At least, they were not elderly when they were stricken with it. There also was a history of skin conditions that ran in the family through each generation.
We may be generations apart from our ancestors but there are numerous signs that they are a part of us and we of them. We inherit their hair colors or their eye colors and our features and physical appearance shows who we are related to. And, likewise, our health can be mimicked and passed on from one generation to the next. The pieces of the puzzle that made me had finally come together.