The Routh Family: Ray Routh and his Ancestors


Isaac Routh was born in North Carolina about 1745, and was probably a son of Zacheus Routh (1717), or one of the other sons of Lawrence Routh (1687). Isaac was living in the household of his older brother, Jacob, at the time of the first US census in 1790. He moved to Grainger County, Tennessee with that family in 1791. Isaac married near Knoxville in 1794. He was the father of nine sons. The oldest, Jacob, was born in 1795. He died in 1835, leaving his five sons orphans. His brothers took the boys with them when they moved to Indiana, Arkansas and Missouri. Two of the boys, Jacob and John, were left in Tennessee with their Uncle Stephen. The following story was based on a story told by Edward Routh, son of Jacob, when Ed was eighty years old. It tells how his father made his way to Missouri in 1837. The rest of this story concerns his descendants and the families of their wives.

The Runaways

It was in the wee hours of the morning and the window on the second story of the large log cabin opened very quietly. A tall, red haired boy looked out, and carefully lowered a bundle to the ground below. Everyone else in the household was asleep, but the two boys at the window. They were planning to run away in the morning, and the two bundles contained all the things they had been saving for that purpose. Jacob, the oldest, was twelve years old that early spring morning of 1837. His brother, John, was ten. Their parents were dead, and they lived with their Uncle Stephen. They thought he was a cruel man. He believed in the old adage, “To spare the rod is to spoil the child.” If that was the case, they would never be spoiled! He made them work hard, which was not so bad, They expected to work for their keep. They just did not like the beatings they got when they didn’t please their uncle. They had tried to run away last year, but they were caught and got a good strapping. The boys were determined they would not be caught again. Their Uncle Isaac lived in Polk County, Missouri and was a Methodist Minister in the small town of Humansville. If they could get away from the hated uncle, they hoped to find their way to his house. Maybe he would take them in, and not send them back to Tennessee.

Jacob, who was always called Jake, and his brother shared a corn shuck mattress on the floor of a tiny room over the main house. The only window was too small for the boys to sneak out of. All winter they had huddled together, whispering and trying to think of a way to get a good head start, before they were missed. That had been their mistake last year, they never had a plan. They just ran! They knew they couldn’t sneak out after their uncle was asleep. They would have to climb down a ladder and go through the room he and Aunt Sarah slept in. They were sure to be caught. That evening, a plan came to Jake, as the boys were bringing the cows in to be milked. All they had to do was leave the bars down on the pasture gate and the cows would wander away into the night. In the morning when Uncle Stephen sent them after the stray cows, they would just keep going. They would be a long way from there before their uncle missed them. He would not be alarmed if they did not get back until milking time that night.

The boys had taken a lot of time and thought collecting the necessary items for the journey. They each had a blanket, flint to make a fire with, a line and hooks to catch fish to eat, a knife, their shoes and all the food they could sneak from the table without getting caught. Jake thought they should each carry the same supplies, then if they were separated, they each could go on alone. That evening, while they were in the woods after the cows, Jake taught his brother how to point his knife in the direction the sun went down. He told him that was the way to go if they were ever separated. If this was done every night, even if it were cloudy in the morning, he would always know which way to start walking. Jake didn’t know it was over six hundred miles to Missouri. He knew it was a long way, though. He asked John, “Are you sure you still want to go with me? It is a long way and we will he tired and hungry many times before we get to Polk county.”

John answered. “If you will take me with you, I will keep up and never complain, besides, I don’t want to stay here when you are gone.”

So it was settled. They would go in the morning. The boys left the bars down on the gate, so the cows would get out. They had to lower their bundles to the ground without being seen or heard. They planned to go out early in the morning, before anyone was up, and hide the bundles in the bushes. They had quite a hard time getting to sleep again. As soon as it was daylight, they were both up and ready to go on the great adventure. They ate all they could for breakfast. They knew they would not stop to eat until many miles were between them and their hated uncle’s house. Aunt Sarah gave them a biscuit to put in their pockets, in case they didn’t get back by noon. They were going to make sure of that! They left through the barn lot, then sneaked back to get their bundles. After that, they didn’t lose any time putting distance between them and Uncle Stephen. The boys had many adventures on their way to Poke County. They often told their children about them.

At that time, much of the country they walked through was unsettled. A few Indians were still roaming about, making trouble. The Mississippi River was one of the greatest barriers. Somehow they got across it. When they finally got to Uncle lsaac’s house, they found another brother living there. The three brothers stay together until they were old enough to go off on their own.

John bought a farm in Cedar County, after he married. He lived there awhile, then moved to Dallas County where he lived for the rest of his life. Jake and Isaac spent most of their lives in Polk and Cedar Counties. These three brothers left many Rouths who can trace their people back to the two brave boys that walked through the wilderness to get there. Some of these families moved to other states> Many of them stayed in the Ozarks.

Jake was a tall, red haired young man of twenty-one, with what he hoped was the start of full, red beard sprouting on his chin, when he heard that an army officer was in town recruiting men. Jake signed on. They were going to fight along the Mexican border. One hundred men left Humansville in 1846. They traveled by horseback and in wagons. This company fought around Moro, Red River and Taos. There was a dispute with Mexico about the boundaries of what is now the states of New Mexico and Arizona. After a year in the southwestern desert, the men came back, after many skirmishes with the Mexicans. In 1853, that war was settled when the United States bought the territory from the Mexican Government. Over forty-five thousand square miles were bought for $10,000,000. This deal was called the Gadsden Purchase, named after the man who negotiated it, James Gadsden. Jake was glad to get home after all of the fighting.

Two years later, wearing his full, red beard, Jake married Caroline Smith. She was only fifteen years old at that time. Their son, William, came into this world on December 27, 1849. The baby lived, but Jake’s young bride died early in 1850.

Jake thought he needed a wife to help him look after his tiny son, so he married Eleanor Robinson later that same year. She was twenty years old. In ten years, they had six more children. In 1856, Jake moved his family to a farm he had bought. It was located in section 27, Cedar County. This was part of the same section his brother, John, had filed on the same year.

Eleanor died soon after the birth of her last baby, born in 1862. Again needing a mother for his family, much larger now, Jake married for the third time. He married Ellen Ennis or Owens, there is some disagreement about her maiden name, on September 18, 1864. Ellen was born in Indiana in 1835. Ellen bore Jake four more children. That made him a total of eleven, from all of his wives. Ellen’s children were named, Grace, Sara Amanda, Arthur Edward and Samuel. Grace married Preston Bax and Sara, called Mandy, married a man named Harry Snook.

Arthur Edward was nicknamed Ed at an early age, and that was the name he was known by for the rest of his life. He was born in Cedar County on May 16, 1871. Ed told his grandchildren many of the stories his Pap, he called his father Pap, told him when Ed was a boy, growing up in the Ozarks. His Pap told him about the bloody battles along the Mexican border. Also about the long trip from Tennessee when he and his brother, John, tricked their mean uncle.

Ed told his grandchildren about himself when he was a boy. “My Pap,” he said, “was an old man when I was a little feller. I knowed if I deviled him about wanting to go to town with him, he would jest git mad and say, “No”, so when I seed him fixin’ to go, I washed my face and ran out and opened the gate fer him. Then I clum’ up and perched on the gatepost. Sometimes, Pap would stop and tell me to git on the saddle behind him. Sometimes, he jest rode on by and left me a sittin’ there.”

When Ed was a boy, Indians sometimes camped along Turkey Creek in the summertime. After they were gone, he and his brother always went and rummaged around in the plunder they left behind. They never left much of value, though. These were Indians of the Sac and Osage tribes. They were friendly at that time.

Jake made Ellen a loom, whittling it out of seasoned hickory wood. He looked at another loom for a pattern. This loom was run by foot power with pedals. Ellen made woven rag rugs for other people. These were made out of rag strips. Women saved their rags, tearing them into long strips. Then they sewed the strips together, winding them into large balls. When they had enough balls to make a rug, they paid Ellen to weave it on her loom. If they could not pay in money, she traded her work for enough rags to make two rugs. One of these she sold for money. Ed helped his mother with the weaving. As she was weaving, Ellen told her children stories of her childhood in Kentucky. In those days, before radio and television, people had very little entertainment. The children were happy to hear stories of the old days. During the Civil War, some soldiers were seen coming up the hollow, south of the cabin. Ellen’s brothers took the cow and mules and hid them deep in the woods. Just in time, because the soldiers took their pig, and all of their chickens and killed them and cooked them. After they were through eating, they went inside the cabin, to see what they could steal from there. The soldiers began poking under the bed the old Grandma was lying on. She pretended to be very sick and she said in a trembling voice, “Cain’t you boys go on and leave a poor old sick granny die in peace?”

The soldiers did not know the family had hidden the harness for the mules between the straw tick and the feather bed. That was how the family saved the cow, mules and harness from the soldiers. They would have taken them all.

Ed was born and raised in the hill country of the Ozarks, and all his life he spoke the dialect of the hills. The following, story is one of his tales.

“I recollect one time when I was jest a little tad,” he said. “It were raining something turrible outside. We heared a pounding on the door. When Pap opened it, thar were two fellers a standin’ thar. One of them said, “My name is Howard, and this here is my brother, Frank, we shore would be obliged if we could stay the night in yore shed to keep in out of the wet.”

“Well, Pap told them to put their horses in the shed, and he said we would be mighty proud to have them take supper with us, too.”

Mr. Howard said, “That sounds fine to us. We don’t want to put you folks out none though.”

” After supper, Pap, told them the sleeping loft was full of young-uns. If they didn’t mind sleeping on the floor, his woman would make up a pallet on the floor for them. The next mornin’ when they left, Mr. Howard gave my Pap a gold dollar and he said, Many thanks for letting us stay in yore cabin out of the rain.”

“The next day,” Ed continued, “We found out it were Jesse James and his brother, Frank, that stayed in our cabin that night. I were only nine years old then and I remember, Jesse was shot and killed by one of his own men, two years later.”

“It were the very next night,” Ed said, “and Sam and me heared a noise in the shed. It were jest gittin’ dark and we couldn’t see inside. We thought on hit for awhile, then Sam said, “Do you reckon it be Jesse and Frank hidin’ in thar?”

“I was skeered, but Sam warn’t and he went on in. Well, you never heared sech a racket in yore life. I seed a calf come buckin’ out of that shed. Sam was ridin’ hit backards. He was hollerin’ fer me to ketch the calf, so he could git off. Jest then he fell off. He warn’t hurt none though.”

After he had finished his story, Ed laughed so hard the tears fell out of the sides of his eyes, not the inside corners like most tears do. He had deep wrinkles between his eyes and ears, and this is where his tears ran when he laughed.

Mary Routh was the oldest daughter of Jake and Eleanor Routh. She was born on August 8, 1851, probably in Cedar County. She married Scott Taylor Castlebury on the 13th of August, 1869. He was two years older than she was. They raised four girls and one son, John. The girls all married young and had many children. Molly married twice, first to a man named Moulder, then to Alvia Woods. Effie married Harry Grimes and another girl married George Houk. Sara Rhoda Catherine, the other girl, was born on February, 11, 1877. Called Rhoda, she had gray eyes and she was a short girl. She was kind and sweet, and she always liked to do for others. It was decided she would go and help her Grandpa Jake, keep house. His third wife, Ellen, had just died, and he and the boys, Ed and Samuel, did not know the first thing about cleaning house or cooking for themselves. Fortunately, Ellen didn’t leave any young children behind, as Jake’s other wives had when they died. His girls were all married and the boys were young men. Eighteen year old Rhoda was glad to go over and help out.

After Ed and Sam were both married, Jake lived with his many children. He received a pension from the government for his service in the Mexican War. He died on the 13th of August, 1914 at the ripe old age of eighty-nine. The most vivid memory his grandchildren have of old Jake was his full beard, turned gray with age. Oh! how angry he would get when the little ones pulled it!


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