.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Letter to the editor: Family history forever linked to Owen County

-A A +A

I’m a granddaughter of Grace Natalie Spiers Newton. A few years ago in the Calistoga, Napa County, Calif., museum, I found an area dedicated to the Spiers of Kentucky. This perked my interest in my grandmother Grace, who passed away when I was 2. My search took us from Placerville, El Dorado County in California to Monterey.
I had a book written by Mrs. Margaret Murphy so I called someone with the Owen County History Museum who graciously put me in contact with Margaret, who turned out to be my fourth cousin.
Through this great lady I was introduced to her son, Jim, and friends, Christina Rice, the Wingates, the Strassells and so many more.
I have three family lines coming out of Monterey — Smith, Spiers and Williams.
Grace’s father was John Richard Spiers. His parents were William Joshua and
Louisa Smith Spiers; and his was Joshua and Lucy Williams Spiers. John, William, and Louisa were born in Monterey. Louisa Smith’s parents were Rueben and Mary; and Lucy Williams’ parents were John and Mary. Lucy’s brother, James
Williams, built a trading post and called the future town Williamsburg (now Monterey).
While I was driving around admiring the beauty of Owen County, I thought of the heartache William and Louisa Spiers must have had when in about 1865 soldiers burned their home down. This caused the starting of the Spiers family seven-year travel westward with 11 of their 13 children. Louisa had to  leave her parents; siblings; a child, Lucy Spiers Smither; and grandchildren, never to see them or Monterey again. In 1868 they settled in Missouri where children Anna and John married. In 1874 in Kansas, they purchase land and found it to be useless; during 1876-1878 they traveled the Oregon Trail, where in 1878 they arrived in Tehama County California. Daughter Ellgives went back to Kansas to marry and Jeremiah back to Missouri to marry and settled in Texas. In 1875 son John and family moved from Missouri to California joining his parents in 1878 in Red Bluff, Calif., where Grace was born. In 1892 the family moved to Calistoga in Napa County, Calif., where they settled for good.
Soon upon returning to California my husband and I traveled to Los Angeles to visit my two uncles who are the last of their generation. They were raised on the Spiers/Newton farm in Calistoga, and were teenagers when Grace, their mother, died. There were three generations present during our visit. I showed a power point/movie of what I found in Kentucky. I showed them pictures of the 400 acres our family lived on along the Kentucky River. I had found proof of Joshua’s seven years service in the Revolutionary War — so, it wasn’t an old family tale.
 That he served under Col. William Thompson as an artificer (artillery officer). He lost partial hearing because of close proximity to the cannons; also he was taken prisoner by the British. He also served under Brig. General George Roger Clark, building boats. My family had no idea about all of this. I had pictures of the early Kentucky relatives. They saw their own likeness in them. They started talking about making a trip to Kentucky themselves or maybe we would go all together. Genealogy is great for bringing family together.
Gene and I have so many memories of Kentucky — like the DAR luncheon at the Duncan Tavern where Bonnie Strassell did a wonderful re-enactment; a tour through Buffalo Trace Distillery; the Owen County History Meeting; Sunday at Monterey Baptist Church; and a family dinner at Margaret’s, where Tom Strassell let us shoot his flintlock rifle.
I just want to let the loving and gracious people of Owen County, Kentucky know you will all always be in our hearts. Thank you all for helping me find and appreciate those who came before me, and what they did for my generation and for those who will come after me.

Eugene and Linda Leggitt Swystun