“You couldn’t believe anything John T told you. He was a great fibber.” My new friend, Buster Moore, is explaining his grandfather and, as history happened, the youngest eye witness to the first flight. But Buster is not referring to that day, Johnny really was there, just his rascally character in general.

Friend Ed Beckley is writing an article on the history of Colington Island and asks me for information about the multi-use path project and anything else of interest that I might know. I tell him about the little yellow house that John T Moore, or Johnny Moore to historians, used to live in and describe it. Ed sends me a photo of what he thinks is the right house, but my description is off base as Ed has the wrong house. I tell him that I will get some photos for him.

I have taken several a few months back when I got the information about the house from Tanya Hill. John T Moore was her great grandfather. She is caretaker of the Hilltop Cemetery near the little house. I could not find my photos so I decide to not only take more but also take a photo of John T’s grave site.

moore grave

John T and Cloey Moore. John witnessed the first flight in 1903 when he was sixteen. He is famous for running up the beach, before there were dunes, shouting “They done it. They done it. Damn’d if they ain’t flew.”

It’s not a big cemetery, still I have to walk the entire thing, which is extremely interesting before I find John T and his wife Cloey smack dab in the middle. As I am straightening the silk flower cross to get a nice photo a gentleman walks up. Now if you do not know this cemetery, it is about a quarter of an acre on a hill but pretty much flat. You can throw a football from one end to the other or side to side. I was easy to spot wandering around.

He doesn’t say a word and I stand up explaining what I am doing and ask if he is Stanley. Stanley is the last living child of John T’s double digit brood and Tanya has told me that he lives nearby. This gent laughs and says words to the effect of not on your life.

He then begins to tell me about his father, Dallas, one of John T’s children, whose grave site is a few over. And his mother May, who as it turns out is Tanya’s grandmother, and still living. He tells me lots more family history, citing the names of all the children of John T. I listen so enthralled that I do not even think to take notes. I ask if he will let me take his picture, but he declines. He also is not interested in letting me take photos of his many clippings about the Wright flight and his grandfather. My new friend is part Indian and believes that photos take part of your soul. Later in our chat I ask his name. Buster he tells me, named after an uncle who was killed in WWII. One of my favorite uncles on my mother’s side was named Buster too. Buster Moore and I are instant kindred spirits.

I do think to ask if he had a relationship with his grandfather. He tells me he did and that he remembers sitting on the porch of the original house. It was a much bigger house than the abandoned current house built in 1954 that sits on about the same site.  He tells me that the crepe myrtles were as close to the road, then a dirt path, as they are today.

He tells me that Stanley would talk to me about John T but to not bank on anything that he says because he fibs as much as his dad did. He tells me a story about John T and the Colington game warden. Geese were out of season and the warden asks John T if he’d seen any. John T who always wore an overcoat smiles and tells the warden that he has not as he squeezes the dead geese tucked under each arm a bit tighter.

I do not know how to get up with Buster but I plan on going back to the cemetery in hopes that he’ll show up. He does live close by. I want to ask him if his grandfather talked about the Wright brothers, not as much about the day they flew, but just about them in general. John T did name one of his sons Orville Lindbergh Moore, so he must have some good memories. Trouble is can we believe anything he told Buster.

many greats grandfather

Starke Jett my great great grandfather

Seven year old grandson Edward was at fall camp recently getting some down time, as he told his mom, before his new baby sister arrives. While we were sewing a bed for shy cat Huey’s newly designed and created by Edward outdoor home, Edward notices a portrait hanging on the wall and asks who it is. I fumble through a few greats and give up, I need to review the time line. And yes, Edward did a lot of the sewing. He and Sebastian have now had a camp sewing machine lesson and both did really well.

Back to the portrait. I have an awesome book on the entire Jett lineage my cousin Jeter put together decades ago. It starts with Peter Jett & his wife Mary who settled in Peppertocks Creek near Bray’s Wharf (now Leedstown) in or around in 1663 and goes forward until publication in 1977 so fact checking is easy. Still the details of the painting escape me until today when I am wandering through my old blog posts on LiveJournal and find this. This first part is about a big birthday party we threw for Mom at the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum. She got to invite anyone she wanted to include and we provided all the rest.

The birthday party for mom was a lot of fun. She was in her element. The weather was perfect. A nice group of family and friends. The Melinda cake was awesome as always, and it survived the eighty flaming candles. 

While I was in Reedville I stopped by cousin Miriam’s house and found out some information on the mystery painting. Seems that the painter, Sidney E King, was Miriam’s art teacher. He went on to become rather well known in the area. He was even hired by Jamestown to paint a series of landscapes. Well, anyway, Miriam commissioned him to paint portraits of Starke I, her great grandfather, and Theodore Augusta, her grandfather. They now hang in the courthouse in Heathsville. The one I ended up with Mr King painted specifically for Miriam. She likes it more than the official portrait. My dad got it because he asked her for it years ago and so she gave it to him. 

And so for this generation of grands the portrait is of their great great great great grandfather, Starke Jett, a well respected minister with the Methodist Episcopal Church of the South. He was also a Democratic delegate to the Virginia Legislature.

Family matters are fun to matter.

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