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In Memory of my Father, John H. Denton, Jr. 

by Laura Estelle Denton Anthony
March, 2000

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John H. and Clara Bell Prowse Denton
with Stelle

When I was young, my Father often talked to me about the move from Jackson County, Tennessee to Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky. His memories were so vivid,  it was as if they were etched on his soul!

My grand-father, John H. Denton, was a school teacher. In 1891 he was offered a school in Kentucky.    He loaded all his belongings, his wife, Melissa Jane, and five children into a wagon for the long trek to Kentucky. The children ranged in age from Lillie who was 12, to baby Maggie who was 1.  They also took the family cow and a small coop of chickens.  Along the way, they stopped each night, set the campfire, and cooked supper.  My father, John,Jr., was 4 years old, and he was furious because the older ones were allowed to chop firewood, and sleep on pallets under the wagon. HE had to sleep in the wagon with BABY SISTER 

One evening he slipped away to the wood pile, picked up the ax, and chopped a piece of wood. He looked down and saw blood pouring from his hand. He had not felt anything, but he had chopped  off the end joint of the little finger on his left hand !   All he could think of was getting a spanking for he knew he had been bad.  The blood kept pouring, so he saw he HAD to tell his mother.  She took one look, tore a strip from a clean cloth, smeared grease from the hub of the wagon wheel,and bound it up. He was crying and begging her not to tell Pappa!   But here came Pappa with the rocking chair and a quilt.   But little John's Mother rocked him to sleep by the camp fire that night, and held him all night long!

Years later, Dad would often point to that left hand, telling me and my umpteen cousins,  (cousins on Mom's side), that that was what could happen if you disobeyed your parents!

He was a 6 ft. tall, lovable man, and I am sure that by now you can tell I was "Daddy's Girl! "   The Waterbury Case clock dated 1857, that came on that trek , now ticks away in my family room.  I often look at it and try to visualize how it must have been, traveling on dirt roads, through that beautiful mountain  landscape.

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The couple seated in the middle is Melissa Jane Dodson Denton (1852-1938) and her husband, John H. Denton (ca. 1850-1918)
The others from left in the back  are Nona and Rausie Denton, Marion Denton, John H. Denton, Jr. (Stelle's father), Mr. Overby and Lillie Denton Overby.
The small girls in the front are Maggie Denton and Florence Estelle Overby.

A Trip to Grandma's House

We lived in Madisonville, about 40 miles from my Grandmother Denton's house ( Melissa Jane Dodson Phillips Denton) in Hopkinsville, Ky.  Each summer I looked forward to my visit to her house. 

My Mother (Clara Bell Prowse Denton, 1892-1986)  was a wonderful seamstress.   She made such beautiful dresses for me , sometimes with matching " bloomers", getting ready for my trip. My Daddy would put me on the train, in the charge of the Conductor.   Daddy would pin a big note on me, saying who I was and where I was going.  Sometimes the Conductor would ask me to "help" him punch the tickets from the other passengers.  I was always rewarded with a Nehi Grape Soda!! 

Grandma was always waiting for my arrival, and I was promptly put in her care. I loved going to her house for she lived out in the country. There was a cow, and chickens, and ducks, and funny little creatures that she called her " watch  dogs."  I thought they sure were funny looking little doggies!  But of course, they were guineas! 

It was a big thrill to take the basket and go to the hen house and gather the eggs. One of my favorite things was to go to her flower garden and pick an arm full, then Grandma put them on the big round table where we ate.   I had to take a nap every afternoon, but when I got up the biggest treat of all was waiting for me -- a tea party!  Grandma drank from her favorite cup and MINE was served on DOLL DISHES! 

The first summer visit I made there, I just knew I would be in trouble with my Mother. I  dearly loved all my pretty little dresses. But Grandma proceeded to sit down and let all the hems out, almost to my ankles.   I just knew my Mother would be angry with me.  But when I got back home, she told me not to worry,  and never say anything to Grandma about it. She said Grandma loved me, and just did what she would do for her own little girl -- that she was old and I would always have to respect her and her wishes !

I find myself wondering how the present generation would have reacted?   I will be 83 years old in November, but so many of my childhood memories are still very clear.

Hope you enjoy ! 
Laura Estelle Denton Anthony  --  just Stelle

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