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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Melinda’s Legacy

When I began searching for my 3rd great aunt, Melinda West, I immediately found her and her husband, Israel Presnell, in the 1880 United States Census living in White Water Township, Bollinger County, Missouri. She was 81 years old, and Israel was 85.  Both were listed as paupers.  According to the definition of paupers as used in census records, they may have been individuals who were dependent on some type of assistance or lived in the home of a family member.  However, Melinda and Israel were the only individuals listed at that residence.  Therefore, determining how they qualified as paupers is nebulous.

My first reaction was one of sadness to find that she was identified as “a pauper” in a state many miles from her birthplace of South Carolina and her childhood home of Wilkes County, North Carolina.  At the time of my initial search, I found no information about any children that she may have had.

Little did I know that my Aunt Melinda did, indeed, leave quite a legacy!

My search for Melinda was initiated a couple of years ago with the expectations of learning more about my 4th and 5th great grandfathers who were John West and Alexander West I.  John West was Melinda’s father, and Alexander was her grandfather. Since I began my genealogical endeavors, Alexander West I has been my “brick wall.” John West, her father, has been elusive, also.

Family lore and the 1810 census record indicate that John’s wife, Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon, and their three young children returned to Wilkes, North Carolina, after John’s death in South Carolina.  The couple had moved from Wilkes, North Carolina, to South Carolina sometime after their marriage in 1796.  According to census records, the three children were born in South Carolina.  John Balus West was born about 1798, Melinda about 1799, and another daughter after 1798.

Recently, I learned about Melinda’s legacy from my cousin, Joanne, who discovered it through her research.  Although Melinda never lived to see the accomplishments of her descendants, several of them became prosperous and well-known.

My paper trail revealed that Melinda and Israel married in Wilkes County, North Carolina, on December 12, 1819.  In 1820 they appeared in the census for Wilkes, North Carolina. By the 1850 census, they were living in Brazeau, Perry, Missouri; in 1870 they were in Union, Bollinger, Missouri; and in 1880 they resided in White Water, Bollinger, Missouri. Their five children, Stephen Joseph, Eveline, Isaac, Solomon, and Carolina, were born between the years of 1828 and 1843, one in North Carolina, one in Kentucky, one in Illinois, and two in Missouri.  The lives of Melinda and Israel certainly were typical of those who moved westward to find a better life in the first half of the 1800s.

Surprisingly, the lineage from Melinda and Israel’s son, Stephen Joseph Presnell, and his daughter Susan Frances Presnell led to the Limbaugh family!  The following list represents the direct-line descendants from Alexander West I to the Limbaugh family.
·         Alexander West I (between 1720-1730 - after 1790) and unknown spouse
·         John West (1760-about 1800) and Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon (1760-after 1840)
·         Melinda West (about 1799-after 1800) and Israel Presnell (about 1795-1884)
·         Stephen Joseph Presnell (1828-1881) and Elizabeth Hudson (1826-1904)
·         Susan Frances Presnell (1852-1938) and Joseph Hadley Limbaugh (1844-1898)
·         Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Sr. (1891-1996) and Beulah Maude Seabough (1891-1977)
·         Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Jr. (1918-1990) and Mildred Carolyn Armstrong (1925-2000)
·         Rush Hudson Limbaugh, III

Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Sr. was a lawyer who served as a Missouri prosecutor, judge, special commissioner, member of the Missouri House of Representatives, and president of the Missouri Historical Society. The Federal Courthouse in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, is named for him.  Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Jr. was also a lawyer.   Rush Limbaugh, III is the conservative talk-show host.

At this point in my narrative, my readers must be curious as to what my relationship is with Rush Limbaugh, III.  According to my genealogical paper-trail, my cousin Joanne, my sister Sandy, and I share the relationship of 5th cousins with Rush Limbaugh, III.  Our most recent common ancestors were John West and Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon who were our 4th great grandparents.

Melinda would have been proud; she left a legacy that will not be forgotten.

Thanks, Joanne, for your discovery!

·         Missouri, Find a Grave Index, 1812-2011
·         Missouri, Deaths and Burials Index, 1873-1976
·         Missouri, Marriage Records, 1805-2002
·         North Carolina Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868
·         North Carolina Marriage Collection, 1741-2004
·         Social Security Death Index
·         United States Census Records for 1810, 1820,1850,1870, 1800, 1900, 1920, 1930
·         U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900
·         West, John Foster. “History of West Family Is Given,” The Journal-Patriot, North Wilkesboro, NC, Nov. 8, 1976