Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

A FAMILY FROM BUTLER COUNTY, MISSOURI

Robert Luke Ledbetter
Feb.06, 1873 - Jun. 13, 1962

Mary Catherine Thaxton
Mar. 26, 1876 - Mar 20, 1968

"Bob" married "Kate" October 17, 1896, Pope Co. Illinois. They lived in Butler Co. Missouri, for most of their married life. Uncle Bob, was a constable and farmer in Butler Co. and became a Justice of the Peace. approximate time of JP. 1938-1948 Elected J.P. , Ash Hill Township

Their children are as follows: Mary Bell (m) Melton. Vicey May d. 18 years of age. Ernest Zander "Bill" , Lydia Burbie d. baby, William Patrick "Pat", and Dorothy Phoebe (m) Sedrick.

Ernest Zander (Bill), Lydia Burbie, William Patrick "Pat" , and Phoebe Dorothy Ledbetter was born in Butler Co. MO. Ernest and William remained in Butler county. Lydia died before she was two years old. Phoebe along with her husband John and their children moved to Tucson.

Robert Luke (Uncle Bob) Ledbetter came to South Eastern Missouri abt. 1904. His wife Mary Catherine (Kate) and two daughters, Mary Belle and Vicy made the move with him.

Robert Luke was my grandfather and he often told stories about his youth. He was a teamster before he became a farmer. I recently learned what brought him to the Butler County area, where he remained the rest of his life. The next two paragraphs are necessary to show the life pattern of my grandfather as well as a bit of history he was a part of.

South East Missouri, was a swamp area. When the rains came and the hills of the OZARKS could not hold the water, the run off, flowed onto the low lands of the southern part of the state.

In 1905 a group of landowners met in Cape Girardeau and discussed the creation of a drainage district. These landowners realized the vast potential if this area could be used as farmland.

In 1907 legislation was passed and the Little River District was incorporated. The dream these landowners had in 1905 we can witness today as we drive across the Bootheel part of our state.

A main or #1 ditch, was the largest ditch which covered 100 miles. There was a total of more than 900 miles of drainage ditches dug. Ditch #1, collects the runoff from all other ditches in the district and carries it south into Arkansas where it empties into the St. Francis River and later the Mississippi, a distance of 250 miles. [A complete article From Swamp to Cotton] has been written by Jeff Joiner and published in the Rural Missouri. The Rural Missouri is published monthly by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Editorial correspondence and subscriptions can be had from the following address. PO Box 1645 Jefferson City. MO 65102.

There was much cypress and other trees to be cleared from the Swamp land of, South East Missouri, at the turn of the century, before the rich farm land we know today could be used for farming.

The Great Western Land Company, had a part in clearing So.E. Mo. and B.F Christie, was hired as a woods boss. Robert Luke, was living near Dexter, MO., when Mr. B.F. Christie, before his death in 1906, encouraged Robert Luke to work in the woods with him. By the date of Mr. Christie's death, we know there was already an attempt to clear part of the county of Butler. Another family member of the Christie family took the job of woods boss and Robert Luke remained on to work for him.

They drove oxen, and skidded the logs out of the woods. There was sink holes or quick sand as some called them. All these elements had to be dealt with to create this rich farm land. According to Mr. Christie's grandson Aubrey, [ who also has written articles on this era ] and photos we have available, the oxen was used as three yoke of oxen.

My grandfather passed away in 1962. One of the men who had worked with him clearing the timber, knew how well he had handled the oxen. He carved an oxen yolk like the kind used in this photo. He ran an add in the Poplar Bluff, Mo. newspaper, that he would give this carving to the youngest grandchild of Robert Luke Ledbetter, if he would come to Campbell, Mo. and claim it. The youngest grandchild was my ½ brother Richard Ledbetter. My father took Richard to Campbell and they did claim the carving. This is sad. I do not know the man's name.

During his term as JP. of or in Butler County, he preformed many marriage ceremonies. As a child visiting my grandparents, I was to witness more than one wedding. But, I must confess, I don't recall the people who was married. I only know one couple who was married by my grandfather, and they are my husbands aunt and uncle, JM and Virgie Carson.

Robert Luke and Mary Catherine are laid to rest in Gravel Hill Cemetery, St. Francis Arkansas along side their son "Pat", daughter Vicey May, and a daughter-in-law, (Pat's second wife) Violet May Fisher, Ledbetter. Lydia is buried around Ash Hill, in one of the older cemeteries. Ernest Zander (Bill) and his wife are buried in Qulin Cemetery.

Ernest Zander (Bill) served in the army during WWII. He was wounded, but came home to Butler County, MO. He taught Agriculture for a short time. Was a member in the American Legion and VFW, holding office in same. He was a farmer, until his health would not allow him to farm. I am sorry to day I do not know the awards given to him during his military duty, but he did receive one for carrying another soldier off the field of battle causing himself to be wounded with shrapnel in the head.

William Patrick (Pat) was a carpenter and farmer. He built several homes in Butler Co., below Poplar Bluff. Unless they have burned down, they are being lived in at the present time. I recall my father's work box he used when he went to work on a house. It was a long box with a handle across the lenght of it. In this box, was hammers, hand saws, a folding measuring tape, and not much else. I also, recall people waiting their turn for him to build their home. He worked in the defence plants in St. Louis, MO. during the WWII. He was the father of four children at the onset of the war and was left at home to care for his family. He was called to duty just a few days before the war was over. I remember him receiving his notice, and the end of the war had special meaning for my family.

Mary Belle
1942



E.Z. (Bill)
1942


Robert Luke Ledbetter and
Mary Catherine THAXTON
on their wedding day
W.P. (Pat)
abt. 1977



Phoebe
abt 1960



Robert Luke Ledbetter and others
Working as a Teamster clearing
the Swamps of Butler County MO. about 1908

Robert Luke is the one with the white rod over his shoulder.



this page is created by: Mary Agnes LEDBETTER Hudson,
the granddaughter of Robert Luke Ledbetter
on December 07, 1998.

USE THE BACK BUTTON ON YOUR BROWSER AS A RETURN