Tag Archives: Margaret Ragsdale Caple

The Old Star Quilt

Family history writing prompt 4 – Choose and artifact that once belonged to one of your ancestors. Write as though you are that object, tell about who owned it and what history the artifact might have witnessed.

It was the star quilt given to me by my Aunt Iva I chose to write about. As I mentioned in writing prompt 1, Margaret Ragsdale Caple called three women mother. The quilt pictured above was made by one of those women. I have been told the quilt could date back to as far as the 1850’s so for this piece I am going to assume it was made  by Margaret’s birth mother.

 

IF I COULD TALK

 

Go ahead take a close look at me. Yes, I am worn and faded. It’s a wonder I’m still around after all I am 160 years old. I was expertly stitched together by the 5th great-grandmother of the child in photo above. Examine me closely  and you will see I’m made of many small diamonds. It wasn’t easy to stitch those and keep my star laying flat. Back then my colors were vibrant and I was given a place of honor on the bed of little girl named Margaret.

I covered her bed when this nation, torn apart by slavery, fought a civil war. Bushwhackers roamed the countryside of Missouri where she lived so her family sought safety elsewhere. But other dangers lurked, soon smallpox robbed Margaret of her adopted mother and sister.

I went with the little girl and her grieving adopted father back to their home in Brookline, Missouri after the war. There I kept her warm at night and watched. Soon her father remarried and once again the house was filled with laughter and children.

I was there when a handsome, dark-haired, blue-eyed widower stole her heart, and they moved with his two children to a farm in Osborn County, Kansas. I graced their bed the night their first-born son, named Samuel after his handsome Papa, was born and when more children followed.

And oh the stories I could tell of the wild west in and around Dodge City, in the 1880’s. But it was the  winter of 1887 and 1888 that was the hardest. I had to work extra hard to keep the little ones warm. It was so cold, come spring the family decided to move west.

At 30, I was already considered old and worn, still Margaret found me good enough to keep her little boys warm as they camped beside the Oregon trail. It was along this trail her little boy, Roy, fell in love with my bright, big star. Sometimes he make a wish upon me before he fell asleep.

I was covering him the night he first lost someone he loved and was with the family when they buried his big sister Ida, somewhere along the trail.

I traveled with the family, always keeping him warm, as they moved from place to place in Eastern and Western Washington and Oregon, no place good enough, until 1894 they decided to join family in Beaver county, Oklahoma.

Goodness the tales I could tell of living in a tiny, dusty sod house with a family of 7. I heard the muffled sobs beneath my star the night Samuel Jr. was carried home after drowning in a flash flood. Such a loss, just as he was on the brink of adulthood.

Times were changing, a new century arrived. Within a couple of years the family sold their Oklahoma ranch and headed back to Washington.This time I rode in style inside a train.

I was in the wagon the day Margaret put her foot down and told Sam she was not moving again – Puyallup was as good as any place. Soon I resided in a fine house, one I would stay in for more than 20 years.

Life for Margaret was changing, too. The children were growing up, her husband traded in his horse-drawn delivery wagon for a new motorized truck.

I watched as the boys reached manhood and began to make their own way in the world. I heard the worries over a coming war and the fears that loved ones would be lost. I listened to  arguments for and against prohibition.I was there to huddle under when the father of the household passed away.

In time Margaret relocated in Orting, Washington. It made me happy she chose to take me along. She kept me on her big feather bed. My best days were when the grandchildren visited and snuggled with her beneath my star.

I was there the sad day she awoke babbling nonsense. I watched as her frightened grandchildren called for help. Soon Margaret was moved to the GAR home in Puyallup and I was left all alone.

The little boy named Roy, all grown up now, arrived to close up the house. He was going to throw me out.

“Too worn to be of any use,” he said.

But memories of our trip along the Oregon Trail and the wishes made beneath my star changed his mind. He took me home to cover furniture stored in his attic.

I still heard the family stories. I knew how hard Roy struggled to provide for his family during the great depression. I heard his wife on the days she coughed and wheezed and couldn’t catch her breath. And oh I how I longed to wrap myself around Roy’s shoulders the day he lost his beloved wife.

I watched as his little boy and girl became adults and left for work in Bremerton. Another war was coming, soon Roy left, too.   .

And I was left in the attic without my family near. From from time to time Roy would come for a stay. Sometimes he’d come to the attic and smile when he touched me, remembering our days together along the Oregon trail, until one day he was gone forever,too.

The daughter knew her father loved me, so she took me to live in a drawer in her attic. A new century arrived.

Another Margaret came to visit, a great grand-daughter of Margaret. The daughter took her to the attic and pulled me out of the drawer. She told the story of how I had kept her Grandpa Roy warm on the Oregon trail.

“Would you like to have it now?” she asked.

The new Margaret said she loved old quilts like me. She took me to her house. No longer do I sit in an attic.

It’s been a long, long time since the loving hands that stitched me together left this earth.  The little girl whose bed I graced, her little boy who slept under me on the trail and his little girl are all gone, too. But their memories live on in the threads that bind me to them and future generations.

 

 

 

 

DEAR MARGARET-FAMILY HISTORY CHALLENGE -PROMPT 1

November is family history month. I am taking FAMILY HISTORY MAGAZINE’S challenge to write from a daily writing prompt. I plan to post them here on my blog but don’t expect me to get them done in a month.

Prompt one – Choose an ancestor you never knew that you wish you could talk with to learn more of their life history. After mulling it over I decided to write to the ancestor I was named after for, Margaret Ragsdale Caple, my great-grandmother.

Margaret Malinda Ragsdale Caple

DEAR MARGARET- FAMILY HISTORY CHALLENGE- PROMPT 1

Dear Margaret,

You and I share the same first name. My father, your grandson spoke fondly of you. Both he and his sister told me about the fun they had sleeping in your big feather bed.

My Aunt Iva loved the tea parties you had together. She gave me your teapot, it sits on a shelf where I see it daily. I wish we could sit and talk while sipping some of your delicious sarsaparilla tea. There is so much I’d like to ask.

For instance, how did you meet my great-grandfather Samuel Hugh Caple when he lived Jasper County, Iowa and you in Green County, Missouri? Was the age difference between you ever a problem? What was it like traveling the Oregon Trail?  What was it like living in a sod house? Which of your three mothers made the big star quilt I now own?  Which  brings me to the question I most want answered. Who were your birth parents?  I’m sure you knew. Your children said your parents died when you were an infant during a measle or small pox epidemic and you were adopted by cousins.

Through my research, I know you were born in 1858. Two years later in the 1860 census you were living in the home of Richard Jordan Ragsdale, age 52 and his first wife Jincy, age 49. You are listed after their children, a niece and her infant and Richard’s brother William Ragsdale. Your name, Margaret, is easy to read but the word after it, beginning with M, is not. It could be your last name, perhaps Munda or it could be Melinda, which was your middle name.

Some researchers think you might have been the granddaughter of Richard Jordan’s sister Lavina who married Edwin Adams. When they died, leaving three young daughters, Sally Merritt Ragsdale their grandmother cared for them and after her death, Richard Jordan and Jincy took over. If you belonged to one of them, it would have been natural for them to raise you. I can find no information on what happened to two of the girls so it could be true but you would have been Richard Jordan’s great-niece not cousin.

You could also have been a cousin of Jincy and I guess the Adams girls were her cousins for she and Richard shared the same ancestry. Jincy’s grandfather was Richard’s great grandfather and their mothers were sisters. Was all that as confusing for you as it is for me?  Or maybe you never knew about it because in 1863, when you were five, Jincy and her daughter died of smallpox. It was during the Civil War and the family had moved to Rolla, Missouri for safety. I wonder if this is where the story of your losing your parents in a smallpox epidemic comes from, I guess I’ll never know. Richard remarried a widow in 1865 giving you a third mother and she and Richard went on to have nine more children.

By the time the 1870 census was taken, you were listed as one of the Ragsdale’s with no distinction made between you and the other children. It’s clear in a letter Richard Jordan wrote you in 1888 (now in my possession) that he thought of you as a daughter. And you named your youngest son after him.

Recently I had my DNA tested, something you never heard of. Perhaps one day it will help unravel the mystery of your parents. In the meantime, I will have to content myself with knowing my DNA suggests a link, to the Ragsdale tree, the same tree, Richard Jordan and Jincy belong on.

Sincerely your Great-granddaughter.

Margaret

 

 

 

Which ancestor would you like to talk to?  Why?  Please, feel free to let me know in the comment section below.