Sigmon Family History

By Olive Clements Cotton

The Vevay Reveille-Enterprise
April 20, 1944 Issue

Transcription by Lori Burgess
December 21, 2002

Mr. Danglade-I am sending you some more history. Mrs. Effa Danner wrote me, saying that as I had taken my pin hand that she hoped to see more of my articles. She said that the reason the Dufours got so much publicity, was because they had written their own history and if we do not do likewise it will be gone forever.

John Hulley of Lewisville, Ind., wrote me that my article in the Christmas number was worth more to him than all the issues of the paper for the whole year, that he had read it several times and expected to read it several more times. Grace and Guy Walden and Wes expressed their appreciations of it. Lida Cotton Nay of Columbus wrote me that she never knew what her grandfather Protsman's given name was until she read that article, and asked for more Protsman history. Others have sent me word that they wanted to read more from my pen. A stranger at the McFarland sale found out who Clarence was, sent word by him that while he didn't know any of the people whose names were mentioned, but he liked to read those kind of stories. Some said they liked the second article better than the first. I hope someone will like this one. 

Most of these items have been handed down to me by my predecessors. -Olive Clements Cotton.


The Story

There was a Peter Sigmon; we presume that he was the father of John Sigmon, but we have no dates or proof, only the name. John Sigmon was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia on the 6th of June 1784. His wife was Rachel Richards, born November 26, 1793. They were the parents of seven children, some of whom were born in Franklin county, Virginia. Their names were Mary, called Pop or Polly, as it was the custom in those days to call most all Marys by that name. My mother had three aunts that she called “aunt Pop”. Other children were Thomas, Larkin, Julia Ann, Catherine (Cassie), John R., and Jesse.

It is not known whether or not that the family went to Kentucky before they crossed over the Ohio river to Switzerland county, but most of the early settlers did, and likely they did so also.

They owned quite a good many acres of land, part of which was owned by one of the descendants as late as 1913. 

Mary married William Griffith, her first cousin. A great many people in those days married their first cousins. They had two sons, Benjamin and William Jr. After his death she married William Gray; they were the parents of three children, John, Mary Ann and Isaac Gray. Therefore William Griffith, Jr., and Isaac Gray were half-brothers. They married sisters, Mary Frances Banks and Eliza. Their children will tell you that they are not double cousins but cousins and a half. 

The Griffith girls, Emma, Olive and Ella now live in the residential part of the Lanier House in Madison, and look after the main part of the building. There were 8 of the Gray children which are scattered about, Vinnie, the youngest is the art teacher in the Madison schools; Jasper owns a farm on Rykers Ridge, three have passed on, Ettie Waltz and Lou live in Indianapolis and Beatrice at home with her mother. Their father was a Civil War soldier. 

Now back to the other children of John and Rachel. Thomas also married his cousin, Rachel Lewis. They had four daughters, Lizzie, who never married, Ann was the mother of Thomas Protsman of Indian Creek, Mary Belle married Albert Clements, no children; Nettie married Horace Protsman and had three daughters. Anna married Jesse Curry, Effie married a Hess, and Ella, Ed Duvall.
Julia Ann Sigmon married Jacob Lewis. They had six children, Sarah, Isaac, Rachel, Margaret, Mary and John. Sarah was my mother. 

Larkin Sigmon, the one who “laid the cornfield by.” Related in one of my previous articles, marred Mary (Polly) Gray (who was born at Bardstown, Ky., in 1817). In 1836 they were the parents of twelve children. Joe and Jesse were Civil War veterans. Before they entered the army they used to help in harvest time on my grandfathers farm. His little son George was very small and Joe would toss him up on the hay mow and let him slide down. Little George would say, “Do 'gin, shunny, Joe Shinny.” He tried to say, “do it again, it's funny, Joe Sigmon.” Neither of the boys got back home alive both were on their way home, but death overtook Joe at Louisville, March 11, 1862. Jesse got as far as Madison, where his mother met him. He was so ill and so thin in flesh that his mother did not recognize him and thought there had been a mistake, and it wasn't her son. He said, “Oh yes, mother it's I, and you are as fat as a buck.” He died March 27. Their little sister seven years old, who was said to be a very sweet singer, died April 5th, making three deaths in that family in less than a month. 

Singing seemed to be a natural gift to the Sigmon family, especially to that branch. Francis Marion (Mac) had as fine a voice as any one I ever heard. On warm summer evenings we would hear him, just after dusk coming home from Vevay, riding his white horse General, and singing to amuse himself. When he would go down between the hills his voice would go soft pedal, then when he came on top again it would come on full volume. He sung various songs, but “When you and I were Young, Maggie” and “Fuller and Warren” seemed to be his favorites. I never heard anyone else sing the latter. I only remember two lines of it which were,
“With one fatal shot, he killed Warren on the spot.
Then away to Edinburg he went.”
John G. and all his family were singers. Andrew would take his song book and sing by note songs that he never had seen before, just like other people would read a book of stories. He said he liked to sing them to see whether he liked them or not. His sister Lida, has sung in the choir at Burbank, California for twenty years. She also plays her harp on special occasions, and never fails to get an encore. 

“Lark” was the fifer. His first fife was one he had made from a hollow weed stalk; some time after he came into the possessions of a real fife and later a piccolo. He played for the drum corp at a great many picnics and rallies. 

When Don's oldest daughter Clara was so young she could not walk a step or speak a word, I have seen her sit on the floor and hum tunes which she had learned form hearing others sing and would keep time by swaying her little body to and fro. She liked that better than playing with toys. Also Thomas' three sons, Dale, Charlie and Earl and grandson Robert Burrows, made a fine quartet that was a treat to hear. 

Dale and Della are twins, born exactly one hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1876. I have seen Della play the harmonica and piano both at the same time. She had a sort of wire support that she hung around her shoulders that supported the harmonica where she could blow it and played the accompaniment with her hands on the piano, and her older sisters, Emma and Dora, have always sung in their church choirs. 

Their mother was Samantha Protsman. Once when she was a small child she went with her two brothers, John and Joe to Mrs. Hulley's on an errand. After they had accomplished their purpose, the boys wanted to return home but their sister wasn't ready for Mrs. Hulley had just taken the lid off her Dutch oven where she, was baking light bread. At that time cook stoves had not come in use, all cooking was done before an open fireplace. The bread smelt so good and looked so nice that Samantha thought if she hung around 'till it was taken from the over that she might get a slice. Mrs. Hulley left the room for a short time and the boys were still coaxing her to go. She made motions and told them what she was waiting on. The boys knew how finicky she was about what she ate, so one of them reached out and touched the top of the bread with the toe of his boot, and said, “now come on and let's go home.” He knew she would not eat it after he had put his foot on it, and that's the way they persuaded her to accompany them back home. 

John R. was another son of the original John Sigmon. He married Louise Ogle. They had three children, Albert, Louella and Edwin. When Albert was a small boy he would beg his grandfather to tell his stories, he being a good hand at that and what was best his stories were events that actually happened. He always began his stories with “Once upon a time,” but he didn't always have one on the tip of his tongue when little Albert asked for one. He would tell his grandfather that he would tell him a story if his grandfather would tell him one. All right it was a bargain. So little Albert would begin, “Once time there was old man and boys,” but that was as far as he ever got, then he would say, now grand-daddy I have told you one, now you tell me one.” The family moved to New Albany where they went into the hardwood lumber business if I am not mistaken. Louella married Robert Wilcockson; they had two children, Artimisia and John. She used to bring her children up to her uncle Tommy Sigmon's in the summer time to visit among her relatives. John got a shingle nail in one of the bronchial tubes and never grew much as long as it was there. I heard later that the nail had been recovered then he began to grow. Among the last letters I received from Ella Lewis Ogle she told me of Artimisia's death. She had married and died recently; she gave no other details. 

Edwin became a doctor. There was a man by the name of Lou Stewart who attached himself to the family and always lived with them. After Ella Ogle passed on I have lost all track of the family, but suppose there are descendants in and around New Albany at the present time. 

Jesse, a younger son of John and Rachel, was a music teacher; he taught singing. Perhaps there is where the Sigmon's got their singing ability. He never married. To get a joke on my grandfather Clements who was born in 1811, he got hold of the family record and made the last figure into a 4 to make it appear that he was younger, as he was looking for a second wife, but he used an ink that never faded and shows today as plainly as when first written, while the balance is almost faded out. 

Catherine (Cassie) the youngest of the family was a great deal younger than the balance of the original Sigmons. She had nieces and nephews who were as old as herself. My father and she were born the same day, September 8, 1840 and they all grew up together as youngsters. She married John Protsman, Jr. They had three children, Maggie, now the wife of John Swango of the Mt. Sterling vicinity; Anna who died in early childhood; a son was born dead a day or so before the mother passed away and was buried with her in the same casket in the Long Run graveyard. 

The older Sigmons and most of the younger ones were Baptists and most all buried at Long Run. Since country burial grounds are so badly neglected, and desirable space is so meager, the later generations are burying their dead in the Vevay cemetery.
John G. Sigmon was married to Sarah Morris and their oldest daughter Clara Belle married her mother's cousin, Rev. W. E. Morris. They had five children, Claude, Spurgeon, Judson, Minabel and Meta. Claude and Judson were Baptist preachers. Claude passed on three or four years ago in New York City where he was the pastor of a church. Minabel married a man by the name of Hunt. They are the parents of Marsha Hunt, the movie actress of Hollywood, California Meta married a Mr. Boorn and lives in Tenafly, N. Jersey. Rev. W. E. Morris died twenty years ago. His widow made several trips clear across the U. S. visiting her children. After several years she married a man by the name of Booe, and lived at Mocksville, N. Carolina where she died in 1942 and was buried beside her first husband in Memorial Park cemetery, Indianapolis. 

My father always said the Sigmons were honest, upright, honorable people and if there was any irregulars among them it came from the other parental side of the house. 

Claude Morris said it almost knocked him down when he was asked to perform the marriage ceremony that joined his mother to another man but that he went through with it. 

My grandparents, Jacob Lewis and Julia Sigmon were married May 5th in 1841 or 42. I have been told that the season at that time was so far advanced that they had green current pie for the wedding. As far as I can remember back there has never been a season that early since. 

The original John Sigmon had a sister Katie. There may have been other children in the family but I have never heard of them. Katie married Jackson Griffith. They were the parents of William and Joshua mentioned elsewhere in this article. I have heard of my mother speak of uncle Jack and aunt Katie Griffith. They were really her mother's aunt and uncle. Benjamin also mentioned before, married Adaline Hucklebery, a sister to Mrs. Laura Hucklebery Brindley, the wife of William COTTON CONT… 

.. .. .. Brindley, and mother of all those nine men and one girl Mellissa who became the wife of George Madery, also grandmother of Marion Brindley who is a teacher in the public schools of Madison. 

Adaline had six children, Ann Mariah the oldest was totally blind from the effects of scarlet fever. She was educated in a blind school. She learned to sew and would thread her needle with her tongue. She learned to make little baskets out of beads strung on copper wire. No doubt there are some in existence at this late day. The one in our family was made of crystal beads with a red bead stripe around near the top. After her mother's death she took over the management of the home. Making all her brothers and sisters clothes by hand. John, the oldest boy taught this writer to walk in her babyhood days. Then there was Albert, Mary, Alice and Gertie. Their home was on the western end of the Pendleton Run road. Near where the house stood was a very steep short hill that is still known after a hundred years as the Ben Griffith hill. 

The family moved to Kentucky and after then I lost contact with them. Joshua Griffith married Caroline Vernon and became a Baptist preacher and was the minister of Long Run church for 48 years, almost without any pay, a great many of the congregation were his own relation, and appeared to think that he didn't need any pay.