Early Va./Ky. Meachams -- E.I.M. Bible



A Bible Record for Edmond and Iva Meacham?


Virginia Meacham Cravens (1909-1998) copied some family data from a notebook belonging to Aubrey "Dick" Meacham (1896-1959) of Paducah, McCracken county, Kentucky. This took place in about 1950 according to her son Gene Cravens of Lexington, Ky. The entire one-page text is quoted below; my notes are in square brackets; CEM is Clarence E. Mitcham's book Meacham Mitcham Mitchum -- Families of the South published in 1974. This remarkable list is the only transcript or evidence of what appears to be a Bible record for the children and grandchildren of Edmond and Iva Meacham, but it raises many more questions than it answers!

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Copied from a notebook Jessie Meacham White gave Aubrey (Dick) Meacham

Ed Meacham Oct. 6, 188? [copying error here perhaps; tombstone has birth as Oct. 6, 1809]
Ivy Williams Meacham Dec. 17, 1810 -- 1-11-1895
James L. Meacham Dec. 22, 1829 -- 1834
Nancy P. Meacham Feb. 26, 1832
Marion Meacham April 13, 1834
Calvin W. Meacham Oct. 15, 1836
Henry C. Meacham Dec. 20, 1838
Luird E. Meacham June 4, 1841 -- 1879 [CEM has Louisa, June 9]
Gillitha Meacham Nov. 11, 1845 -1845 [CEM has this birth date for a Leander O. Meacham, and has a "Tellitha" born July 27, 1843]
John Milton Meacham Mar. 16, 1848
Alburn W. Meacham Aug. 20, 1850 [CEM has 1851]
William F. Meacham June 20, 1861
Abner W. Meacham Feb. 5, 1863
Robert Milton Meacham June 22, 1864
Jim. H. Meacham Jan. 14, 1865
Sarah E. Meacham April 6, 1867
Alie L. Meacham May 17, 1867 [CEM has 1868]
Joe W. Meacham Feb. 18, 1869
Jessie F. Meacham Nov. 22, 1870 [This is Jessie Meacham White]
[?]olney M. Meacham Aug. 14, 1868 -- 1903 [CEM has Volney M.]
Dudley A. Meacham July 30, 1870
Anie L. Meacham July 22, 1871
John E. Meacham Dec. 4, 1866
Ovelid Meacham July 11, 1878 -- 1882 [tombstone has Ophelia]
Birthey Meacham Sept. 23, 1883
Milford A. Meacham Dec. 25, 1879
Lou E. Meacham Nov. 25, 1878
Eddie B. Meacham Feb. 14, 1876
Idie L. Meacham May 14, 1876 [tombstone has Ida L., May 19; CEM has Ida Lee, May 10]
Nancy G. Meacham Mar. 14, 1871 [CEM has Nannie Jennie]
Elmo M. Meacham June 26, 1873 [CEM has June 24]
George F. Meacham Nov. 1, 1876
Mira Meacham Jan. 2, 1884 [tombstone has Myra, Jan. 18]

[end of first column]

Everet Otis Meacham 11-30-1885 [CEM has October 3]
Ivy P. Meacham Mar. 22, 1876 [tombstone has Mar. 20; CEM has Mar. 22]
Charley Garner " [ditto marks under Meacham in above entry] 12-21-87
Delley Oteo " 6-2-1890
Pearl Henderson [Meacham?-- No ditto marks] 11[or 7?]-24-1882

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This seems almost certainly to have come from a family Bible record, since it is list mainly of birth dates generally in chronological order. It is strange that only a few of the death dates are recorded. If the information in this notebook was compiled by Jessie Meacham White (1870-1955) from tombstone inscriptions or even from conversation with relatives, then surely the death dates would have been recorded as well. The fact that the entries cease at 1903, and the dates of death of her own father (1923), sister (Sarah E. 1872), and brother (Eddie B. 1878) were not added, indicate that the information in her notebook was copied faithfully, without amendment or interpolation, from an old Bible-type record. Perhaps the old family Bible was disintegrating through age and wear-and-tear, and the notebook took over the duties of the Bible at some point before 1903, in which case it would not have been written by Jessie at all.

The whereabouts or fate of this Bible is unknown. In spite of numerous inquiries with descendants of many of the people on the list, including at least one from every major grouping with living descendants (see III, VI, VIII and IX below), no trace or memory of the Bible has yet been uncovered, and it may not exist any longer. Similarly, the notebook "that Jessie Meacham White gave Aubrey (Dick) Meacham" is not now in the possession of Dick Meacham's only child, Judy Meacham Carson, who does not remember ever seeing it.

The list itself is a quite remarkable Bible-type record of births, and a few deaths. The minor discrepancies with the tombstone data give it a semblance of authenticity; clearly these are not all copying mistakes. The chronological order without other notations suggests that Edmond and Iva kept a record of the births of their children and grandchildren, and this record was continued later by someone else, for at least the two death entries of 1895 and 1903. The breaks in chronological sequence could be due to a change in circumstances around 1870 -- perhaps someone new began recording the data, or the recorder became less orderly in making the entries. This fact notwithstanding, it does appear that this is an original and generally accurate record of births, which may have priority over tombstone inscriptions, considering that entries in a family Bible are believed to be primary evidence at or near the time of the event recorded.

At first it might appear that quite a few entries have been entered long after they occurred, since there seems to have been occasional catching up on backlog, or "back-writing," a trait often seen in family Bible records. Excluding Edmond and Iva's obviously "back-written" birth dates, the sequence runs quite chronologically for the first 17 entries to 1870, then there is one dated 1868, and there are several more breaks in the sequence thereafter.

However, there are other explanations for these breaks in chronology that would seem more likely. The first is insertion, i.e. there was some space left between two entries and a new, later entry is made between them, thus skewing the sequence. Another is column-jumping; in the first 17 entries an order is apparent that breaks down thereafter, and it may be due to nothing more than some entries being made in the right-hand column before the left one is full. A third is page-jumping, ie when a new page is started before the previous page is completely full. There could be family-oriented reasons for this, but examining the identities of those at each chronlogical break does not indicate any clear family linkage. Far from being evidence against the accuracy of the Bible record, the fact that the irregular chronology has been maintained indicates that the copyist was faithful to the original format of the text and did not re-arrange it.

Comparing this record with what has been compiled from other sources, no major errors appear to have crept in. There are a couple of "missing persons" and these are discussed below. Identifying each entry by known relationship, we see that all the known children of Edmond and Iva (except Leander) are present in their correct order, marked below by I,II,III, etc. And all of their known grandchildren surnamed Meacham who did not die at birth are present as well (except Watt). The grandchildren are marked by the roman numeral of the parent and A,B,C, etc. No great-grandchildren are found on the list, even though several were born in the period concerned (the first in 1885, followed by others in 1887, 1888, 1896, 1899). It seems that this record was intended only to cover two generations from the parents.

Ed Meacham Oct. 6, 188?
Ivy Williams Meacham Dec. 17, 1810 -- 1-11-1895

children of Edmond and Iva:

I. James L. Meacham Dec. 22, 1829 -- 1834
II. Nancy P. Meacham Feb. 26, 1832
III. Marion Meacham April 13, 1834
IV. Calvin W. Meacham Oct. 15, 1836
V. Henry C. Meacham Dec. 20, 1838
VI. Luird E. Meacham June 4, 1841 - 1879
VII. Gillitha Meacham Nov. 11, 1845 -1845
VIII. John Milton Meacham Mar. 16, 1848
IX. Alburn W. Meacham Aug. 20, 1850

grandchildren of Edmond and Iva:

III-A. William F. Meacham June 20, 1861
VI-A. Abner W. Meacham Feb. 5, 1863
III-B.Robert Milton Meacham June 22, 1864
VI-B. Jim. H. Meacham Jan. 14, 1865
IV-A. Sarah E. Meacham April 6, 1867
VI-C. Alie L. Meacham May 17, 1867
IV-B. Joe W. Meacham Feb. 18, 1869
IV-C. Jessie F. Meacham Nov. 22, 1870
VIII-A [?]olney M. Meacham Aug. 14, 1868 - 1903
VIII-B. Dudley A. Meacham July 30, 1870
III-D. Anie L. Meacham July 22, 1871
III-C. John E. Meacham Dec. 4, 1866
IX-B. Ovelid Meacham July 11, 1878 - 1882
IX-C. Birthey Meacham Sept. 23, 1883
VIII-C. Milford A. Meacham Dec. 25, 1879
VI-G. Lou E. Meacham Nov. 25, 1878
IV-D. Eddie B. Meacham Feb. 14, 1876
IX-A. Idie L. Meacham May 14, 1876
VI-D. Nancy G. Meacham Mar. 14, 1871
VI-E. Elmo M. Meacham June 26, 1873
VI-F. George F. Meacham Nov. 1, 1876
III- F. Mira Meacham Jan. 2, 1884
IX-D. Everet Otis Meacham 11-30-1885
III-E. Ivy P. Meacham Mar. 22, 1876
IX-E. Charley Garner " 12-21-1887
IX-F. Delley Oteo " 6-2-1890

unidentified:

??? Pearl Henderson 11-24-1882

Re-arranging the entries by sequence, parentage and straightening out the chronology, we see the children and grandchildren of Edmond and Iva thus:

I. James L. Meacham Dec. 22, 1829 --1834

II. Nancy P. Meacham Feb. 26, 1832

III. Marion Meacham April 13, 1834
III-A. William F. Meacham June 20, 1861
III-B.Robert Milton Meacham June 22, 1864
III-C. John E. Meacham Dec. 4, 1866
III-D. Anie L. Meacham July 22, 1871
III-E. Ivy P. Meacham Mar. 22, 1876
III-F. Mira Meacham Jan. 2, 1884

IV. Calvin W. Meacham Oct. 15, 1836
IV-A. Sarah E. Meacham April 6, 1867
IV-B. Joe W. Meacham Feb. 18, 1869
IV-C. Jessie F. Meacham Nov. 22, 1870
IV-D. Eddie B. Meacham Feb. 14, 1876

V. Henry C. Meacham Dec. 20, 1838

VI. Luird E. Meacham June 4, 1841 -1879 [her children are named Meacham as she married Joseph A. Meacham]
VI-A. Abner W. Meacham Feb. 5, 1863
VI-B. Jim. H. Meacham Jan. 14, 1865
VI-C. Alie L. Meacham May 17, 1867
VI-D. Nancy G. Meacham Mar. 14, 1871
VI-E. Elmo M. Meacham June 26, 1873
VI-F. George F. Meacham Nov. 1, 1876
VI-G. Lou E. Meacham Nov. 25, 1878


[Joseph Addison Meacham][Louise Emaline Meacham]
Joseph Addison and Louisa Emaline Meacham.

[Descendants of Joseph and Louisa]
Descendants of Joseph Addison and Louisa Emaline Meacham.



VII. Gillitha Meacham Nov. 11, 1845 -1845

VIII. John Milton Meacham Mar. 16, 1848
VIII-A [?]olney M. Meacham Aug. 14, 1868 -1903
VIII-B. Dudley A. Meacham July 30, 1870
VIII-C. Milford A. Meacham Dec. 25, 1879

IX. Alburn W. Meacham Aug. 20, 1850
IX-A. Idie L. Meacham May 14, 1876
IX-B. Ovelid Meacham July 11, 1878 -1882
IX-C. Birthey Meacham Sept. 23, 1883
IX-D. Everet Otis Meacham 11-30-1885
IX-E. Charley Garner " 12-21-1887
IX-F. Delley Oteo " 6-2-1890
[Family of Alburn W. Meacham]
The family of Alburn W. Meacham, showing children Bertha, Everett, Charley and Delley.

The parents of Pearl Henderson [Meacham?] 11-24-1882 could not be identified. Comparing this list with that of CEM we find the following are missing from the list:

1. Leander O. or Q., said to have been born in 1845.
2. Mary Fritz, daughter of Nancy Meacham Fritz.
3. Two infant unnamed children of Henry C. Meacham who were born and died on the same day in 1876 and 1877, respectively
4. Watt Meacham born about 1880, son of Calvin W. Meacham.

Leander's is a strange case, since the Bible record seems very compelling and orderly in the early decades. The 1850 census shows him aged 5 living with Edmond and Iva, but if Gillitha was born Nov. 11, 1845, he could not have been born of Iva in that year. Could he have been adopted as an orphan? [Postscript: This question was settled with the discovery of a grave marker for L.D. Meacham, with birth date of Nov. 11, 1845; he and Gillitha were twins. See "The Restoration of two Meacham cemeteries in north Christian County, Kentucky" for a description of the discovery.] The absence of Mary Fritz is to be expected, since her birth would presumably have been recorded in a Fritz family Bible. Remarkably, out of the 27 named, Meacham grandchildren of Edmond and Iva, only Watt is not found on the list. No reason can be offered as to his absence. How strong is the evidence that he was the son of Calvin W.? The two infants of Henry C. who survived less than one day are not named on their gravestones, and their birth dates are not found on the list, so it is most unlikely that Pearl was either of them. She could possibly be the only great-grandchild on the list, and could thus provide a clue as to who last had the Bible. Unfortunately, there is no record of a Pearl Meacham, and a genealogist (Tommy Henderson), who has recorded thousands of Hendersons in Christian and adjacent counties in western Kentucky, reports that he has never seen the name used as a middle name in honor of a grandparent or relative.

If the intended name is really Pearl Henderson, it occurred to me that the family Bible might have started recording Hendersons at that point, and either Jessie Meacham White or Virginia Meacham Cravens stopped copying there. It seemed that this might provide a clue about what happened to the Bible, and why there were no later Meacham entries. One of the grandchildren of Edmond and Iva, Nannie Jennie (Nancy G. on the list) Meacham, married Oliver E. Henderson in 1892, and inquiries revealed that Oliver's brother Wallace had a daughter named Clara Pearl (b. 1895). Her birth date however is quite far removed from the 1882 given for Pearl Henderson on the list; furthermore, that date was some ten years before the Meacham-Henderson marriage and that of Clara Pearl's parents (both marriages were in 1892). If Nannie Jennie had inherited the Bible, she would almost certainly have entered her own children in it, and her first child Elma was born in 1896. It may be that she was back-writing the birth of Pearl, and that her first child was the next entry not copied by either Jessie or Virginia Meacham. The final consideration that led me away from this line of inquiry was, firstly, the fact that both Nannie Jennie and Oliver continued to live in Hopkinsville, Ky. until their deaths in 1947 and 1949, respectively. Why would she have not have made entries in it for the death of her father, brothers and sisters? (This is a question that would apply of course to anyone who had the Bible after 1903 -- either it was far removed from the Meacham clans of Christian and McCracken counties, or it was in storage and forgotten about.) Secondly, the existence of a family Bible would most likely have been known to some of her Meacham kin living in or near Hopkinsville at that time. Inquiries with several people who knew her have unearthed no recollection of a Meacham Family Bible.

Another curious aspect of the list is the last date entered -- the 1903 death recorded for Volney M. Whoever had the Bible apparently stopped making notes, or shifted to another surname, after this date. Quite a few deaths even well before 1903 are not entered: e.g. Henry C. who died in 1879 and Nancy P. who died in 1893. Paradoxically, Luird E.'s death in 1879 is recorded. Again, there may be a clue here as to who last held the Bible. The fact that Volney M.'s death is the last entry might indicate that the Bible was in the hands of his father John M., who recorded Volney's death, but for some reason made no more entries after that. John M. died in 1933 in Christian county. Was it perhaps inherited by his younger brother and the only remaining offspring of Edmond and Iva, Alburn W. Meacham? None of the descendants of Alburn W. that were contacted had any knowledge of it.

Another possible scenario is that Edmond and Iva kept the Bible and made the entries in it until their deaths, or senility. In Iva's obituary it is noted that she "died at the home of her son Marion D. Meacham." This house was occupied until recently by Arthur Davenport Meacham (son of Marion D.), his son Robert Wilson Meacham and his grandson Robert Davenport Meacham. According to Robert D., when his grandfather died in 1966, a thorough search was made of the house, since it was believed that a will had been left in the Bible. Neither Bible nor will was found.

Today we don't have the old Bible, we don't know how the information got into Jessie's notebook, and we don't even have her notebook. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? At least we do have the transcript made by Virginia Meacham Cravens, and for that we are certainly in her debt.



Note: People consulted in August and September 2000 while researching this article:

1. Christian county, Ky. -- Ernestine Meacham Smith (daughter of Abner W.), Damon Stokes (grandson of Alie L.), Dudley Meacham (son of Elmo M.), Nila Jean Price and Dorothy Nell Norfleet (granddaughters of Elmo M.), Ann Norfleet (granddaughter of Ivy P.), Robert D. Meacham (greatgrandson of Robert Milton), Portia Word and Barbara Smith (genealogists who have worked on the Meachams of Christian county), Tommy Henderson (genealogist who has worked on the Hendersons of Christian county), Eugene Fears (son of Clara Pearl Henderson).

2. McCracken county, Ky. -- Charles Edward Bichon (widower of Lunelie Meacham Bichon, daughter of Everett Otis), Frances Meacham Hougland (daughter of Everett Otis).

3. Elsewhere -- Leo Berry (son of Lou E.) in Michigan, Dorothy Meacham Norman and Nancy Miller (daughter and granddaughter of Delley Oteo) in Florida, Judy Meacham Carson (granddaughter of Dudley A. and daughter of Aubrey B. "Dick" Meacham) in Tennessee, Helen Meacham (widow of Aubrey E. Meacham, son of Abner W.) in Lagrange, Kentucky, Roscoe Penn (son of Birthey) in Benton,Kentucky; Willis Finley of Texas generously shared information from his extensive Meacham database.



A Note on the Discrepancies

[June 15, 2001]

Apart from some minor differences such as spellings and day or month, the Bible transcript (and I am confident that is what this list from Jessie Meacham's notebook is) has remarkable agreement with the known birth and death dates of the people named. There are two exceptions: the birth dates given for Alie Lee Meacham and Alburn W. Meacham. In each case, the Bible transcript has a date one year earlier than that given in CEM. Intrigued by this discrepancy, and wondering if perhaps the Bible transcript had preserved some factual record which later got altered, I began to research what could be found on the two cases.

Regarding Alburn, CEM has August 20, 1851 and the transcript has August 20, 1850. The 1850 census doesn't have Alburn, who would have been one month old at the time the census record was enumerated. However, it should be noted that omission of newborn babies was a common occurrence in census-taking. The 1860 census has him aged 10 in a record enumerated on August 31, 1860, which thus agrees with the transcript (by a mere 11 days). The 1870 census has him aged 19 in a record made on June 14, 1870, which also agrees with the transcript. However, the 1900 census lists his birth as "August 1851." It is also recorded as 1851 in the family Bible now in the possession of his grand-daughter, Dorothy Jeanette Meacham Norman. On the other hand, the Kentucky death certificate and the funeral home papers both give his age at death on June 14, 1936 as 85, which agrees with a birthdate in August 1850.

The way I interpret this conflicting evidence is that the transcript is correct, he was born in 1850, and the 1860 and 1870 census are chronologically the closest documentary evidence relating to his birth. Apparently sometime before 1900 this memory was altered to 1851, and the later date was recorded both in the census and the new family Bibles prepared for his children. Upon Alburn's death, the earlier family Bible or perhaps the transcript of it made by Jessie Meacham may have been consulted and the birthdate of 1850 was used for recording his age at death.

The case of Alie Lee is more straightforward. The 1870 census has Alie aged 3 in a record made on June 4, 1870, thus agreeing (by 3 weeks) with the transcript's date of May 17, 1867, as against CEM's date of May 17, 1868. The death certificate has Alie Lee Meacham Latham's death on Feb. 19, 1960 at the age of 93, which means a date of birth even earlier than May 1867. Her tombstone (Section E, Glenwood Cemetery in Elkton, KY) has dates of 1866-1960. The 1870 census is the strongest evidence in this case, being the closest in time to her birth.

It seems that the transcript did indeed preserve an accurate record of birth dates that shifted a bit in the 20th century.

See the Bible Record of Marion and Georgia Meacham for further discrepancies.


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