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Chapter 1

GROWING UP IN THE OLD WEST

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MISSOURI BEGINNINGS . . . was born at Hardin, Ray County, Missouri, March the 8th, 1899, the son of Forrest Everett and Linnie Neal Keith. Mother was a Merrifield and her mother was a descendant from Benjamin Merrill, who started the first revolution against the British four years before the American R e v o l u t i o n . His small army was crushed by the British. He was captured, hung, and drawn-and-quartered on the scaffold. M y Grandmother Keith was Druzilla Ann Cummins before her marriage to Silas Keith in Cynthiana, Kentucky in 1850. She was a descendant from Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Captain Clark had a daughter named Hannah who married an Irishman named Elliot. They in turn had a daughter who married a Cummins. The Cummins family had a daughter that they named Druzilla, a name that Captain Clark wanted carried d o w n in the family. Druzilla Ann Cummins became my Grandmother Keith. Many years later we named our girl Druzilla. On both sides my ancestors were Kentuckians who moved in with Daniel Boone or shortly afterwards. W h e n the game became scarce there, they moved on to Missouri and during the Civil W a r they fought on the southern side. M y uncle, Oleander J. Berry,
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w h o married my father's oldest sister, was wounded in the Battle of Lexington across the river from Hardin. They was rolling cotton bales up against the northern fort, which they later took. When he reached up over a bale to ram another ball down his old squirrel rifle, a minieball took him through the right arm, breaking his arm. Uncle Oleander was out of the fight for the rest of the war. Mother had three uncles in the war also. T w o of them died in the prison camp at Rock Island Arsenal after being taken prisoner. Granddad Merrifield had a big family so he didn't go to war. He was too busy trying to keep his family fed, with first the Confederates coming by hungry, and then a bunch of Northern troops coming by hungry. After the Civil War my grandfather, Anson Merrifield, was the first marshal of Hardin that lived for any length of time. He finally straightened the town of Hardin out. It was well named at that time. H e used an old double-barreled ten gauge for the purpose. T w o of Granddad Merrifield's brothers went west to Texas after the war, and settled near Amarillo. I remember them coming back for a visit when I was a little boy and telling about the big rattlesnakes they found out there, and how they'd take a shotgun and get on a horse in dispatching them. T w o of their sons, A. W.