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Benjamin Franklin & Crocia Ann (Rayl) Windes

Before Benjamin Franklin, or B.F., or Frank, which is the name he preferred, was nineteen years old, the Civil War had virtually begun with the election of Abraham Lincoln in November, l860. After the firing on Fort Sumter in April, l86l, Frank decided he would not participate in the war: "I have friends and family on both sides. How could I fight either?" he wrote his father. "I believe in the Union. But there must be a better way to preserve it than to kill my friends." He packed one suitcase of belongings and left for St.Louis where he took a steamboat to New Orleans. At New Orleans he sailed to Central America, crossed the Central American isthmus, took a boat to the Sandwich Isles, today's Hawaii, and from there, another to San Francisco, arriving at the Golden Gate on May 22, l86l.

He wrote his parents in Missouri, "I know that I can not participate in the struggle underway, a struggle that I cannot defend or justify. It is my belief that the war is morally indefensible, and anyone who participates in it only contributes to the slaughter that is sure to come." Benjamin Franklin Windes was to remain in California until the spring of l866. During those five years, by farming and operating a general store, he amassed a small fortune in gold in the booming Bay Area. He returned to Camden County, Missouri, by overland coach, in May of l866, carrying with him over fourteen thousand dollars in gold and currency.

Back in Missouri, he decided to move to the very southwest corner of the state, to a small community called then Keatsville, or Keitsville, just eight miles from the Arkansas state line and only thirty miles from Indian Territory, now the State of Oklahoma. The newly formed Frisco Railroad had announced plans to build a railroad line from St. Louis to Springfield and then through southwest Missouri to Fort Smith, Arkansas and south. That railroad was to go not through Keatsville, but through a non-existent town the railroad named Washburn, two miles to the west of Keatsville. Frank Windes saw the possibilities, and in l868 he built a two story building just forty yards from where the railroad was to go. This building would become "the largest and best general merchandise store in southwest Missouri," he announced.

Great grandfather Frank also bought a section of land, six-hundred forty acres, and built a large home a mile east of his store on land to be called Washburn Prairie. He married Crocia Ann Rayl, of Waynesville, whom he met in Camdenton at a party.

Crocia Ann came from a family that had settled in and named Pulaski County shortly after Missouri became a State in l820. Her grandfather, Jesse A. Rayl was the original white settler in the county in l8l7, and he later recalled in writing about his early days in Missouri his encounters with the native Americans who lived there when he arrived. He wrote of "the battle of the nitre caves in l8l9" in which eleven Shawnees and eleven Delaware Indians, who lived in the caves, were attacked at sunset while in the caves by almost a hundred Osages. The reason for attack was Osage anger that Shawnees and Delawares were friends of the whites whom the Osages feared. The battle of the caves lasted only a few hours, and in the end only one Shawnee was killed, while the Osage Tribe lost more than twenty. Jesse Rayl wrote: "Their comrades piled the bodies in a heap near the cave, where for years afterward their bleached bones remained as uncanny mementoes of one of the most remarkable Indian battles in Missouri."

Great Grandmother Crocia Ann Rayl's father, Jesse A. Rayl, II, was an attorney in Waynesville (named after the legendary Mad Anthony Wayne) and a circuit court judge for the county, as well as a member of the Missouri State Legislature for over twenty years, serving in both houses of the legislature. The wedding of Benjamin Franklin Windes and Crocia Ann Rayl in Waynesville, Missouri, in June of l868, was an occasion of great joy, the singular post-war social event in Waynesville, and the two of them did their honeymoon at the newly built nine room home on those 640 acres at Washburn Prairie. Frank and Crocia had seven children, Molly, Harry (my grandfather, born April 30, l879), Dora, Carrie, Zoe, Emma, and Robert. The marriage between Frank and Crocia Ann lasted forty-nine years until Benjamin Franklin's death at age seventy-six in l9l7. Crocia Ann died in l924 at the age of eighty-two.

Always the political activist, Crocia had lived to see her long struggle to "give women the right to vote" come true when the 20th Amendment was approved in l920. A lifelong Democrat, she had gotten angry at the Democrats for their attitudes on women's suffrage and vowed never to vote for one. She cast her first vote in l920 for Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs, and in l924, shortly before her death, she cast her final vote for Progressive Party candidate Robert M. La Follette. Crocia was much loved. She and Frank are buried together at a small, peaceful cemetery of gentle breezes on Washburn Prairie.

At first, Frank, and then Frank and his two sons, built and maintained what their advertising called "the finest dry goods, grocery and general merchandise and feed store in Southern Missouri." Their "finest" store did business for ninety years.

Obituary B.F. Windes 1841 - 1917

Source: Scrapbook bought at the estate sale of Vivian Roller by  Ted  W. Roller

B.F. WINDES FUNERAL ------Highly Respected Citizen is Escorted  to  Last Resting Place by Old Friends. ------The pillar and strength of  a  happy home has fallen and his passing has rendered inconsolable grief  to  his loved  ones,  as  well  as  his  friends  who  are   numbered   by   his acquaintanceship. He leaves worthy  sons  and  daughter  who  will  ever reverence the memory of their excellent father, and live  and  exemplify his excellent traits of character, that were so commendable in him as  a man and citizen.

He stood for honesty and uprightness, acted it  and  thereby  erected  a monument in its behalf, that will stand prominently as  a  beacon  light for the guidance of man, who believe in it as a best policy, as long  as
the present generation lives. Never and aught that we ever heard of  has been uttered against his good name.

He was a devoted husband, father, neighbor and  citizen  in  every  word that it implies. His life is worthy of imitation by his loved ones.

This was the life of B.F. Windes of Washburn, who passed to  his  reward at that place, Thursday, Sept. 27, 1917, after a  continued  decline  in health for sometime, aged 65 years, 9 months, and 2 days. He was born in Jefferson county, Ill., Dec. 25, 1841,  and  his  parents  ???  to  Linn Creek, Camden county Mo., when the decedant was a small child. There  he grew to manhood and later moved to Way-???ville, Pulaski  county,  where he engaged in the mercantile business ??ry successfully. April 25,  1866 he and Miss Crecia Raye of that place were  married  and  have  lived  a ????? and she sy????? be located a ????? engaged in the mer???? business for a number of ??? and was very successful. La???  engaged  in  farming and made a success of it. He was the father of nine children,  seven  of whom are living and are: Mrs. Chas. Campbell,  Mrs.  W.B.  Adcock,  Mrs. E.B. Babb, Robert and Harry Windes and Mrs. Walter Stevens  of  Washburn
and Mrs. Chas. Traylor of Richmond Mo.,  who  were  with  their  beloved father when the dissolution came.

He professed faith in Christ  when  about  12  years  old  and  lived  a consistent life.

He was a just and upright Master Mason and lived  and  worked  upon  the square and compasses that imparted good fellowship to his fellow man.

Rev. J.E. Harney of Pierce City and old friend of the family,  conducted funeral services at the home Sunday  afternoon,  in  a  very  impressive manner.

After the services at the residence the Masonic fraternity  took  charge of the remains and they were conveyer to the Washburn Prairie  Cemetery, where they were laid to rest, with the ceremonies of that society.

An attestation of the esteem in which the deceased was held, was plainly visible, by the large number of people assembling at his funeral to  pay the last tribute of love and respect for this  splendid  man,  that  had
assembled in that section for a long time. There were fully fifty  autos at the home,  besides  a  large  number  of  buggies,  hacks  and  other conveyances.

Barry county has lost one of her best citizens, whose death is regretted by all his acquaintances and his memory will be revered by all.

The pall bearers were eight grand sons and were  Frank,  Dewey,  Grailie and Russel Windes, Frank  Campbell,  Leon  Adcock,  Windes  Trayler  and Bryant Sparkman.

1999 Susan Tortorelli All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

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