Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Change of Pace

As this time of the year rolls around, a group of faithful family members gather for their yearly reunion up in the Portsmouth Ohio area. They are all descendants from one branch of the Pace family.....a branch that has two distinct in Eastern Kentucky and one in Southern Ohio.
The Pace family (L-R: Pearl, Albert, Challie, Fannie, Alberta, Vearl,
Dorie, Gracie Pace Adkins with Husband Raleigh Adkins and two children.)
This Pace story is one of hardship, determination, love and faithfulness. It begins in the Eastern Kentucky Mountains - and exemplifies the rich Appalachian spirit that is so often mocked simply because of their humble way of life. Within the areas of Magoffin, Floyd and Johnson Counties, the Pace and Connelly families united with my Great Grandparents, Albert Pace and Fannie Conley (Connelly). It is said that Albert was a descendant of the early pioneer Richard Pace of Jamestown Virginia, and Fannie the descendant of Captain Henry Connelly of the American Revolution. Within the mingled generations it has actually been discovered that both are descendants of the illustrious Captain, but very far back down ye olde family tree - I better not hear any Eastern KY snickering about that one!

Pace homestead in Bear Tree,
Magoffin County Kentucky
This couple produced many children, and several of their descendants were very faithful in interviewing the children of Albert and Fannie. According to some of the family interviews, Albert and Fannie were greatly admired for their hard work and love of family. They made their home near Salyersville, Magoffin County,Kentucky, in a small area known as Bare (Bear) Tree. Growing up, I always heard Great Grandpa Albert referred to as "Prince" Albert Pace. As an adult, this term always perplexed me because I was pretty sure that wasn't his real name. However, caveat observed - I don't have his vital records, so, Prince could really have been part of his name. Ironically, when a cousin passed along this photo of Albert, all fancied up, I wasn't surprised that the "Prince" portion stuck to his memory. Albert did not live to be an old man, but died rather young and with a full head of hair - which I thought was interesting, since he never looked like the Prince Albert tobacco can image - but when looking at a younger image of the real Prince Albert, the "Prince" label made complete sense!

Tale of two Princes: Prince Albert Pace (1874-1923) and Prince Albert of Great Britain
According to the oral accounts, Albert was a man of many trades. He worked in the "oil fields", he worked in the mines, he "stacked whiskey frames", and according to the census, he was a farmer. All of the accounts from his daughters describe a loving and cheerful man. His daughter Sarah remembered him as a very devout man: "Everyday before he walked the many miles to work he would go to a spot behind our little house, beside a big tree. There he would stop, on bended knee and pray for his family. The spot where he prayed was worn bare from the pressure of his knee on the ground. For many years after he died, the place stayed bare and the print of his knee was there. I always thought that meant he was still watching out for me." Unfortunately, Albert, aka "Poppy" as his children called him, died from an unknown illness in 1923 around the age of 51. At the time of his death, he left a pregnant wife, eight children and one grown daughter from a previous marriage with two+/- grandchildren.

Fannie Lou Conley Pace
Cottle Malone (1882-1956)
After the death of Albert, Fannie's life changed completely. She worked as many odd jobs as she could cram into one day while taking care of her children. The memories surrounding these years include the image of her staying up late at night to do mending by the fire as part of her local paid duties. Instead of marrying again right away, Fannie gave birth to Georgie, four months after Albert's death, but then had to bury Georgie, 22 months later. Not long after Georgie's death, Fannie's two oldest boys learned about work up in Ohio and convinced their mother to take the entire family to Wheelersburg, a suburb of Portsmouth Ohio. Historically, this was a common move for many in Eastern Kentucky at the time. Factories were growing by leaps and bounds up along the river, and the number of jobs grew right along with them.

Not long after settling with her young daughters in a small dwelling near Meade, Fannie married their landlord, Bill Cottle. During these years, she also ran a small store, and faithfully attended a local Pentecostal church in the area. After Bill died, she married a man by the name of Malone, but kept working hard until her death in 1956.
Meade Pentecostal Church
Another consistent memory associated with Fannie was her kind nature. All of her children remember her very fondly. And so, after this northern migration, all of her children and descendants stayed north of the river, for the most part. I think we might be the only ones who returned to Kentucky - many decades later. For this reason, the family reunion is always held near the Portsmouth area each summer. If you recognize this clan and wish to join in the reunion fun, just contact me directly and I can give you the particulars.

Many thanks to my Pace cousins for keeping our oral history alive: Carolyn, Jodi, Brenda, Marcia, Bob, etc. If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't know the rich heritage that comes from this side of our family. For additional connections to this branch, the connected surnames include: Salyer, Caudill, Musick, Crace/Adkins.
Albert and Fannie's children at a Pace Reunion years ago.



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