James Henry Reddell 1845-1903
by Dan Reddell
James Henry Reddell not only fathered 12 children with four wives, but he abandoned each of his families while they were young in one way or another. Apparently, he even left two wives for the same woman.
In 1863, at the age of 17, Henry married Susan Alyce Long just as the Civil War fighting was heating up. He, his parents, and other relatives were living in Mississippi. Susan was only four months pregnant when Henry's father, Samuel Jefferson Reddell, died as a result of wounds suffered in battle at Canton, MS--April 23, 1863.
The truama of Samuel's death at 45 years of age tore the family apart. His wife Margaret had just given birth to his last child, Martin Jefferson, August 1, 1861. Margaret took Martin, later to found Reddell LA, and the rest of her unmarried children and moved to Freestone Co., Texas, where she died July 1, 1880. She never remarried.
Henry stayed in Mississippi and Susan became pregnant again, but before she gave birth to William Samuel on March 9, 1869, Henry took his first son, James Anderson, and moved to Polk Co., Arkansas. He never returned to Susan, but later in life, James Anderson returned to his mother on his own and stayed near her the rest of her life.
Henry then married Francis Wilcox in 1872 in Scott Co., AR, and had three children. Josephine was born in 1873, Drucilla in 1876, and Samuel Baxter in 1879. According to Drucilla, Henry left Francis for a much younger woman, Caroline Heathcock. However, Francis died and Carrie disappeared for the time being.
Henry met and married Molly Embry in Polk Co., AR. in 1884, leaving his previous children behind.
They had four children: Laura "Lee"
born June, 1885, who married William Self, Etta, born January, 1887, who married Bruce Douglas, William Harve, born March, 1890, who married Novella Anna Howard, and Robert F., born July 1891, who married Josie "Pearl?" Hunt.
Once again, Carrie showed up. Sometime around Robert's birth, Henry walked away from his third family, went to Indian Territory in Oklahoma and married Carrie in 1893.
They had five children whose names we know: Hattie, born October 1893 in Bates Oklahoma, Jessie Lafayette, born July 1897 in Bates, David Monroe, born February, 1899 in Bates, James Clayton, born December 22, 1900 and Edgar who was born in 1902 and died in 1904.
Carrie died in childbirth in 1901 and was buried with her newborn son in her arms. Henry died December 22, 1903 of a hernia that ruptured after he moved a heavy barrel of whiskey or beer. The young children of his fourth family were now orphans in Coal Co., Oklahoma.
Drucilla, Henry's daughter from his second marriage was 27 years old by now and married to Solon Isenhower. She went to court to fight for custody of the children of Henry's fourth marriage against Carrie's parents, C.A. and Purify Fox. The boys went to Dru and Hattie went to Carrie's parents.
My grandfather, William Harve, said he had to go to work at age 12 to help support his family. He said that his father had two "woodcolts" by the younger woman he abandoned his family for. We don't know their names.
With the Civil War death of his father, Samuel Jefferson, Henry's family had been torn apart. He seemingly replayed that tragedy time and again for the rest of his life.
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