Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wickers: Tennessee to Missouri

John W. Wicker (grandfather of James "Wes" Wicker)
Virginia (Mary) Sampson Wicker (Grandmother of James "Wes" Wicker)

When I started researching my family history back in 1976, I wrote and interviewed many relatives, travelled to Southeast Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee where Dave and I combed through old records and rolls of microfilm. I am so happy I had an opportunity to interview relatives who are long gone, but I wish I'd taped our discussions and photographed them.

"Peck" Wicker and his sister Pauline Wicker Burns helped me get started. One of them told me that three brothers (Con--Hugh Cornelius, Walker--Marion Walker, and Johnnie B--John Bedford) came to Missouri from the Reelfoot area by crossing the Mississippi River on ice. I had the impression they were adults when they came to Missouri, but further research shows that their mother (Virginia Sampson), father (John W. Wicker) and all of their aunts, uncles and cousins came at about the same time shortly after the Civil War.---before John Bedford and Marion Walker were even born. Also, they came from Obion County, Tennessee not Reelfoot Kentucky.

According to the 1870 census, the spouses and children of the following all came to Missouri around 1869: John W. Wicker and Virginia Sampson Wicker and their siblings: Mary Ann Wicker Wright, William R. Wicker, Sarah Elizabeth Wicker McLean, Cornelius Wicker, Rachel Wicker Vaught and Tennessee Sampson Parent---about 30 relatives all living next to each other in Stoddard County. Even their mother Sarah Wicker was living with the McLean's! There were two children born in Missouri but they were a year old or younger. The funny thing is most of these people are entered twice in the 1870 census---in Elk Township and Richland Township. Most of the time I can't find my relatives anywhere, but this group was double counted in 1870!

I don't know if they all came over the Mississippi River on ice, but I know it was fairly common for people to cross the rivers in wagons around St. Louis, Missouri in winter after the rivers were iced over. Stoddard County in southeast Missouri is a bit milder in climate than most of Missouri, though. I have found another family's history which talks about crossing the Mississippi River on ice a little further north from Stoddard County. But, if the Mississippi River was iced over in Stoddard County allowing everyone to migrate at the same time, that would be a family story told over and over.
I stayed in touch with various cousins over the years---Rick Philhours (Marion Walker's grandson) recently sent me the above photos of our common ancestors John W. Wicker and Virginia Sampson. (actually Rick and I have common Williams ancestors also---my grandfather and his mother were double cousins) Prior to these photos, all I had was a physical description of John W. Wicker from his Civil War record.

Now, while there were two John W. Wickers living in Obion County Tennessee, I feel pretty sure that ours was this confederate soldier because of his age (the other one was 10 years older).

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