The following letter was written by Irene Slavens Donohoe to Orin Slavens. Thanks to Rosie Myers for sharing this with Slavens.net.
6512-8th St. N.W.
Washington 12, D.C.
Nov. 5, 1962
Dear Mr. Slavens,
I was most happy to hear from you and greatly appreciate the report and clippings. Do you want me to return the clippings?
Have you read "Wild Train" by Charles O'Neill? (Published by Random House, 1956) It is quite harrowing. I suppose you know that the Samuel Slavens who was hanged was the grandfather of Madge Slavens King.
Of all the interesting statistics and events in your letter one that intrigued me greatly was the story of the two Indians and our Isaiah and his son. I had never heard that before. Have you any more personal reminiscences of your grandfather you could tell me? Stories like these, so real and vivid, make our ancestors see to come to life.
Yes, Tom Slavens (Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Slavens) was my own cousin, his father Dr. Zenas Ludolphus Slavens and my father Luther Jones Slavens were brothers. Uncle Dolph was grandfather's oldest child and my father was grandfather's youngest child.
Papa used to tell us about how his father and mother met. His grandfather Joseph Roundtree and his family were moving from Tennessee (before that they lived in N.C.) to Missouri in covered wagons. And his father, Rev. James Hervey Slavens was riding horseback from the Farmington Pastors Circuit (in S.E. Missouri). He was a circuit rider enroute to his new pastorate in Springfield, Greene Co., Missouri Mission. This was early in the year 1831. It was a long, tiresome, lonely trip for the young preacher (only twenty-two years old) over primitive roads, through rough hilly country, delayed by rain, creeks where he had to tarry a day or so until he could ford them (there were no bridges there in those days). So when he met up with the covered wagons of Joseph Roundtree he was glad indeed for companionship. Grandfather was on his way to Greene Co. to establish a church of the Methodist Episcopal faith. Papa said when grandfather saw the young Roundtree daughter (a small girl with fair skin, auburn hair and brown eyes) he thought she was the prettiest girl he ever saw. Papa said when his parents were old that grandfather would tell this and say "and I never had any reason all these years to change my mind. She's still the prettiest girl I ever saw."
The Roundtrees were also Methodists and very cordial and helpful to him, extended to him the hospitality of the house awaiting them for Papa's grandfather Rountree and to ___ of his sons had come to Greene Co. Mo. the year before, selected land and built a home. Grandfather stayed with the Roundtree family for some time and since a church had yet to be established and built, the first sermons were held in the Roundtree home.
Grandfather founded the St. Paul Methodist Church which is still in existence. I was there this summer. Two of my daughters were with me as well as my three sisters and my youngest daughter's two children. We were all interested to see some of Grandfather's things locked in a cabinet-- his Bible (his family recorded therein even to ME), his saddle bags and medicine kit (for he was a medical doctor too), some photographs of him etc. It was thrilling to us.
There is a marker on the site of the first church-- (the present St. Paul Methodist Church is the third church) to grandfather. In Springfield also there is a monument (memorial) to Grandfather Roundtree who was the first school teacher.
Yes I have been in Oklahoma, though not far into the state. In 1915 we moved from Missouri to Arkansas and lived in the little town of Gentry in Benton County for three years. Then Papa still drove horses so we couldn't go on a long trips in a day like we do now in a car but we often drove over into Oklahoma. If I lived in Gentry now in these days of good roads and fast cars we could visit back and forth.
This time I am sending you what I have on Isaiah's son William Stuart Slavens, my great-great grandfather.
You mentioned that Willis Slavens was a spy in the Civil War. Do you have any statistics on him - children, etc. I appreciate you telling me about Ben Slavens' daughter Sallie and her children.
You said your nicknamed is Bud. One of Papa's brothers, Bailey, was called Bud, and Pap's only living sister Nancy Ann was called Sis. So all my life I have called them Uncle Bud and Aunt Sis.
You spoke of you're your grandfather Henry Slavens having been married at Greencastle, Ind. My father remembered visiting at Greencastle at that time. Grandfather lived at Portland Mills, Ind. The reason my grandfather went there was to help Dr. Jack Slavens with his practice. Dr. Jack was a son of Reuben(3) Isaiah(2) John of Ireland (1). Uncle Dolph and his wife were living at Portland Mills too. Gen. Tom was born there. They lived in Indiana about two years. Papa well remembered Aunt Sarah (Holland), widow of Hiram B. Slavens. They lived about five miles from Greencastle. They had a house with upstairs as well as downstairs fireplaces, which he recalled distinctly.
Papa remembered his grandfather as a kind, affectionate man. He was six feet tall and I think dark-haired and blue eyes. Papa loved to visit there. It was quite a distance from Dallas Co., Missouri, where grandfather lived in Middletown, Montgomery Co., Missouri. When great grandfather Wm. Stuart Slavens lived there they didn't get to go very often in those days of horse and buggy, wagon, or horseback travel.
We know very little about Wm. Stuart's first wife Ann Hendricks, mother of my grandfather James Hervey Slavens, since grandfather was only about six years old when she died. Grandfather was a cousin of Thomas A. Hendricks, Gov. of Indiana, and Vice President in 1885. Just what kin I don't know.
In the biography of my great-grandfather Wm. Stuart Slavens you will note it mentions his fourth wife, the widow Thomas' maiden name was Rebecca Stanley. I never heard my father say that but I have heard him say Wm. Stuart's 5th wife, the widow Myers, was Pauline Hunt. Neither did I ever hear him say the 4th wife, Rebecca (Stanley) had any children. We know Ann Hendricks had three children including my grandfather but we thought all the rest of Stuart's children belonged to Elizabeth Ellsbury.
You will note in the biography there was a son Aaron. I never heard of him. In our list is a daughter Maria, not in the biography.
Mr. F. L. Slavens of 1201 Constantinople St., New Orleans is writing a book on the Descendants of John Slavin. He was in Washington this summer and came to see us. He is a very nice person. I would have mentioned this before but thought it was too late for him to take any more material. Now I understand publication is delayed for a little while. Would you like to have your family in the book? If so you can write him or if you would rather, I can write him and give him your line as you have sent to me. Would you like that?
It is a cold day, with light snow, our first of the season.
Tomorrow is election day. How I wish I could vote. I am a Republican and a Methodist, but won't quarrel with you if you disagree on either.
Next time I will give you a list of my grandfather's children.
I will be looking forward to another letter from you. I hope soon.
Irene S. Donohoe
p.s. I have looked through all of my records and cannot locate where Henry Slavens of the obituary comes into the Slavens geneology. I will search again.