Abijah Houston Sturgell

Abijah Houston Sturgell was the one son of Isaac and Mary Bandy Sturgell who stayed put. Byge’s brothers, Andrew Jackson and George Washington Sturgell, went wandering through the Arkansas Ozarks with their father. Byge, on the other hand, remained in Barry County, Missouri. He married Martha Susannah Alberty on 5 June 1876 in nearby Newton County, Missouri. She was the daughter of John Alberty and Susannah Douthit. Susannah was the unfortunate widow who married Abijah’s father, Isaac, as his second wife.

There is no family lore as to how Isaac and Susannah met, but Susannah apparently had no objections to Byge marrying her daughter. (This wedding took place two years after Susannah’s bitter divorce from Isaac.)

Abijah and Martha had eleven children born to them in Barry County over the following twenty-two years:

1. Mary Susannah, born 18 October 1877. She was named for her two grandmothers, Mary Bandy Sturgell and Susannah Douthit Alberty. Sadly, Mary Susannah died just past her first birthday on 27 November 1878.
2. Juliann, born 5 January 1879; died 5 March 1968 in Chickasha, Grady Co., OK. She married Columbus W. (Lum) Taylor on 7 March 1895 in Barry County, MO.
3. Maggie Clementine, born 8 November 1880; died 18 Oct 1921 in Monett, Barry Co., MO. She married William Al Periman on 25 Feb 1897 in Barry County, MO. Al was the older brother of John Periman, who married Maggie’s sister, Nora.
4. John Houston, born 15 April 1882; died 1941 in Chickasha, Grady, OK. He married Della Brooks on 12 Nov 1902, Barry County, MO.
5. Lee Rue, born 3 December 1884; died 16 Aug 1947, Oak Ridge, Barry, MO. He married Gertrude Shirley on 8 Aug 1906 in Barry County, MO.
6. Nora Bell, born 5 November 1886; died 28 July 1960, Oklahoma City, OK. She married John D. Periman on 18 Aug 1901 in Barry County, MO.
7. Gertie May, born 6 Dec 1888; died two days after her 12th birthday on 8 December 1900, Barry County, MO.
8. Amy Cora, born 21 August 1891; died 19 May 1964 in Castroville, Medina, TX. She married Frank Slemp on 22 August 1910, in Chickasha, Grady, OK.
9. Oscar Elden, born 13 September 1893; died 15 June 1968 in Anadarko, Caddo, OK.
10. Glena Agnes, born 29 February 1896; died 16 December 1907 in Cato, Barry, MO.
11. Andrew Herman (Bud), born 6 October 1898; died 27 January 1989 in Blanchard, McClain, OK.

It must have been difficult for Abjiah to see the break up of his family as he was growing up. He was only twelve at the time that his father married Susannah Alberty. Because of the fact that he named his first child “Mary,” I would say that he loved his mother and likely missed her and his sisters very much.

However, Uncle Bud Sturgell had good memories of his family life as he grew up with the exception of Abijah’s death. He remarked that Abijah died of burns when an oil lamp tipped over and started a fire.

Part of the story was omitted, though. I had assumed from Uncle Bud’s description that Abijah died at the time of the fire or immediately after. That was not the case. There are few death records to be found in Missouri pre-1916 and Abijah’s is not one of them. I tracked down microfilms of the Cassville Republican newspaper for 1905. It appears that the fire happened sometime in 1904.

From the Cassville Republican, 12 January 1905 under the “Mountain Home” section says:

“B. Sturgle is in bad health and has been for some time.”

To me, “for some time” implies at least a month and perhaps longer. “B. Sturgle” was Bige, short for Abijah, Sturgell.

Next, on 30 March 1905, there is another mention. Part of this sentence is cut off of the copy, but says “Bige Sturgle’s condition is no better. . . .” It’s been many years since this copy was made off the microfilm, but I think the missing part of the sentence says “since June.” If so, Abijah, or Bige, had been suffering for nine months at this point.

The final mention of Abijah was found in the 8 June 1905 issue of the Cassville Republican.

“Bigey Sturgle died Saturday and was buried Sunday at the Snider Cemetery. He left a wife and several children to mourn his departure.”

Thus, Abijah suffered for about a year before finally succumbing to the effects of the accident. I can’t imagine a much more painful way for someone’s life to end.

If Abijah ever had his picture taken, it may not have survived as no one in the family seems to have a photo of him. I wonder if this photo of the family was taken around the time of his funeral:

Sturgell Family
Sturgell Family

Widow Martha Susannah is on the left. The young boy next to her is Bud Sturgell and I believe the girl behind him is Amy. the couple in the middle look like John D. Periman and Nora Bell Sturgell who married in 1901. They had no surviving children until son Elzie was born in 1909. Next to Nora is Oscar Elden Sturgell.

Everyone in the picture is quite dressed up, the way they would be if attending a funeral, particularly that of their husband and father. I have been to Snider Cemetery and visited the family graves there. It is a very wooded area with a small clearing where the graves are. In fact, it looks very much like the foliage behind the family. If this was taken after Abijah’s burial on 3 June 1905, Bud would have been 6 1/2 years old, Amy would have been almost 14 and Oscar just short of 12 years old. That seems to be a close match to the children’s ages in this picture.

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