Volume 4 , Number 12, Summer 1973
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Kimberling live in a house with a porch running along the entire front, reminding one of ante-bellum days. The house was builded before the Spanish American War. The house stands to the right of Highway 13, a half mile south of Kimberling Bridge. Tall trees and low shrub give privacy to the house as it sort of nestles into the hillside, 400 feet from the heavily traveled highway.
Freds parents Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Kimberling built the house when Fred was eight months old. Fred was born Nov. 1, 1884 in a log house down the way. His father started the present house in the spring of 1885. The family moved in, in July, 1885.
The only addition to the house came with a new kitchen. The only change in the rooms was taking space from the original kitchen, now a dining room, for a bath and dressing room.
When in 1959 a plumber put in pipes for the bath and kitchen, he found that he must go through or over huge white oak logs.
Then Fred recalled hearing his mother tell how the father dug a big ditch three and one half feet deep around the outline of the house, he filled in the ditch with rocks and on top laid hand hewn oak logs.
Fred says "Many people at that time just built the house on top of the ground or sometimes set the house on logs or rocks that lay on top of the ground."
Under the kitchen and beyond, the father dug a cellar, there to store milk, vegetables and fruits. He hung a tight door at the head of the steps and another at the bottom of the steps or at the real entrance to the "cave" cellar. Fred says "That made it tight, no cold or hot air coming in at all". Mrs. Kimberling adds "The floor is made of stone as were the walls. Freds job was to take care of the milk. Part of that care was to wash the stone floor and walls every day."
The lumber came from a saw mill located in the "Pinery" and called the "Pinery Mill", near Lampe. From pine came the siding but from white oak came the studdings. Fred recalls that the lumber cost fifty cents a hundred or five dollars a thousand feet.
William Wesley Kimberling called "Uncle Wes" by all, and father to Fred, enclosed his land with rail fence. He cleared the land and made the rails. Here Fred inserts "As soon as I was big enough I helped with this clearing of the land. I began by stacking brush. Three of the rails in the fence left standing out there came from walnut trees.
The double fire place one facing into the sitting room the other into, now, a bed room, then likely a parlor, carries the stamp of hand hewn lumber with sometimes the mark of the cutting tool showing. Mrs. Kimberling reminds one that likely in those days even the parlor held a bed, for generally there were large families and few bedrooms.
The family cemetery came about when in 1887 an infant child died, the father W. W. Kimberling (Uncle Wes) chose a spot beneath a lovely tree on the hillside around and back of the house. Soon other families asked to bury their dead there. Later Mr. Kimberling deeded the plot to the county. There is no incorporation, but only a loosely hung together association, called the Kimberling Memorial Association. At the first meeting of the association Mrs. Fred Kimberling was elected treasurer. She continues such, writing, keeping records of all burials and where. At present her list records forty bodies. Mrs. Kimberling writes in her book, how much money is donated, by whom and what for the money is spent. Mr. Fred keeps the cemetery, clean and beautiful in its peaceful setting.
In the quiet of this setting lie the bodies of 10 of Freds family: His mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. William Wesley Kimberling; four brothers: John, W. W. jr. (Bill) and his wife Marion (Aunt Mayme), Bruce and an infant; four sisters: Nancy F. Biles and husband Thomas R. Biles, Susie Biles and husband William Biles, Lula A. and Myra Ella. And Mrs. Fred Kimberlings mother Isabelle Peterson.
Mr. and Mrs. Kimberling recall that none bought boxes for burial. Rather the family or the neighbors made the box from lumber of the area. Fred suspects that many of those boxes will and are lasting as long as will the new metal boxes in which one places a fancy casket. He says "The first bought casket in our family, that father purchased when my sister Lula died in 1897."
Mrs. Kimberling recalls seeing her mother line
a casket. "Always," she says, "that was done, white lining for a child and dark for an adult, with a pillow for the head of the deceased. I remember of one day watching my mother with scissors, make a round edging then draw it up to make a ruffle around the pillow and edge of the casket. It made it prettier."
Here Mrs. Kimberling reminisced a bit about the mid wife of the area, Aunt Phoebe Gallions. A husband came for Aunt Phoebe. He brought a horse for Aunt Phoebe. They were to cross a fast running stream at the center current. Mrs. Kimberlings father knew that Aunt Phoebes head swam when she must cross high water on a long trek so always he would either put her behind him and say hold tight or he would put her in front of him so he might watch her. The man on that night did not know Aunt Phoebe. He put her on the other horse and led the way across White River. When he reached the other side and looked back for Aunt Phoebe, she was gone. They found her body several days later. They made the lining of the box as pretty as they could.
Phoebe Cox (Kimberling), Freds mother, lost her mother when Phoebe was five years old. When she was eleven years old the Bushwackers came in 1861, called her father out and shot him down. Phoebes brother Jim, just a boy was called out, too. The Bushwackers told him he could save himself if he would run. He refused to run.
Fred says that the mother told them, too, of the time during the war when they heard that the Bushwackers were coming so the children took old quilts and such and went to the mouth of Schoonover Creek, there to camp for three days and nights.
Fred adds "My mother would again and again say she hoped that she would never live to see another war. She did not for she died in 1917."
After the War, Mother Phoebe lived in their old home on Wilderness Road, where the Turner Estates are now. Freds brother Dick bought that home later.
Fred Kimberling tells that in 1868, "We, that is William Wesley Kimberling and his family, lived on the other side of the river. My father had a store in the home. Mother said that her husband always had a store. The people soon wanted a postoffice. They got it in 1874. But soon my father bought land on this side of the river. The U. S. Post Office did not want the Post Office moved for it was too difficult to get across the river. There was no bridge then, only a ferry. An inspector came to see what must be done. Sam Stewart whose wife was a sister to my mother wanted to be post master. He was quite a talker. They talked and talked and Uncle Sam, quite a radical argues his side and opinions. The government man said, "Youre the durndest radical man I ever heard of. By golly we will call the post office Radical, for you are to be the postmaster so we will just call that post office, Radical."
Fred has the appointment of his father which reads "John J. Creswell. Postmaster General on 13th of January 1874 appointed William W. Kimberling postmaster at Mayberrys Ferry. Executed 24th of January 1874 at Washington City, the second day of February in the year of our Lord, One thousand and 8 and anniversary of the U. S. the 98th."
Two big frames on the wall show that Joseph Folk, governor tells that W. W. Kimberling was in 1906, and again in 1908 elected Judge of the County Court of Stone County.
In Stone County, too, Freds grandfather Nathaniel Kimberling blazed out Old Wilderness Trail to Harrison, staying on the top of the Ridge when possible.
Fred says, "The Wilderness Trail came by the house to go up to the top of the river bank to the ferry, then back out, right at where the Super market is now and on up the hill.
"In 1884 even after the house was builded one would have to go seven miles to find a house on the road. Other houses were down in the river bottom.
"My father and Henry Thomas bought the old Mayberry Ferry in 1870. It was old so they builded a new ferry. They brought the material from Green Forest, Ark. or from Springfield, Missouri down Wilderness Road. They used either four horses or four mule teams for hauling. They used forty and sixty penny spike nails. The gunnels on the ferry were shipped from the west coast and were 42 feet long. My father designed and built the ferry. He would go to Aurora and Marionville to get timber. The gunnels came in two pieces then were spliced together. Two of my brothers went with teams and running gears to bring the timber from the railroad.
"The Ferry ran on a steel cable. You wound it the way you wanted it to go, the current then hit and pushed the ferry across. I was the youngest boy, so I was reared on a boat after I was four years old. The Ferry crossing was a half mile up White River from where the bridge is now. 0 yes, father made the boat upside down.
"Hogs and turkeys were driven to the ferry and crossed, one hundred at a time."
Other memorabilia include the saddle bags of W.W. Kimberling who was a member of Cavalry all during the Civil War.
Then theres the silvercup bought at Jaccards in Kansas City to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of William Wesley and Phoebe America Kimberling. The cup to always remain with the couple until another couple celebrated a 50th anniversary... with the names and dates to be engraved on the same... Now one may read "Wesley and America Kimberling 1867-1917; James and Mattie 1902-1952, Fred and Nanna 1910-1960. Fred and Mrs. Kimberling bought the Cup. Now Fred says he will need to buy a saucer to find space for so many 50th anniversaries... and that he should have bought a tankard in the first place.
The organ, one of the first in the area was bought by W. W. Kimberling in 1897 and yet stands in the former parlor of the house.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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