The thirteenth of June 1858 was a day for celebration. Noel Rhodes, of Rockingham County, North Carolina, aged about 27 years, married sixteen year old Rosetta Clark, daughter of John R. Clark and Elmira Hudnall.
Marrying at the young age of 16 was not particularly unusual in the South during that time period, but perhaps Rosetta saw it both as a romantic occasion along with a chance for a new life, perhaps away from her step-family.
She had lost her father nine years earlier, in 1849, and her mother had married a second time to Claiborne Hundley, as his second wife.
I also wonder if Noel, wrongly entered in the 1850 census as “Noah,” might also have lost his parents at a young age. He was living with the family of James Barnes, who was 40, and wife, Nancy Hundley, aged 23.
Life was good at first for Noel and Rosetta, as she became pregnant almost right away and gave birth to their daughter, Susan, in 1859. The young family appeared in the 1860 census of Rockingham County, although the ink is so faded it is almost illegible:
Noel, Rosetta & Susan Rhodes, 1860 Census
The Civil War was pretty much the beginning of the end for this family. Noel and Rosetta had a second child, a son Charles, born in late 1860 or early 1861. Then the war broke out.
Like most other young men, Noel enlisted, ready to serve the Confederacy. He was a private in Company I, 13th Infantry North Carolina. His service was short, as he was killed in battle on 27 June 1862 at Gaines’ Mill in Mechanicsville, Virginia.
This was the Battle of Beaver Dam Creek, or the Battle of Mechanicsville. By either name, it was a horrific battle, as 15,500 soldiers died – 6,800 Union and 8,700 Confederate troops.
At the age of twenty, Rosetta Rhodes became a widow with two young children. By 1870, she had migrated with her mother, children, and relatives in the Richard Anderson Covington family. She may well have had mixed feelings about moving to Missouri with the Covingtons, even though they were family.
Richard and his brother, Charles, were both reported as deserters. While being held in Washington, D.C, they signed oaths of allegiance to the Union; when they returned home to North Carolina and word got around, it was suggested that it might be better if they moved on. They decided to head to Missouri where Hudnall relatives were already living.
Rosetta had lost her husband in battle and now she was living with turncoats to the Confederate cause. The 1870 census shows this motley little family living in Callaway County.
Richard A. Covington was head of a household consisting of himself, his widowed mother Elizabeth (Hudnall) Covington, brother Charles W. and Elmira (Hudnall) Clark, who was Elizabeth’s sister.
With them were “Rossie” Rhodes and “Chas.” Rhodes, who was nine. As Noel’s and Rosetta’s daughter, Susan, would only have been eleven years old, it seems safe to say she had died sometime between the 1860 and 1870 censuses.
By 1880, Richard Covington had married and was still living in Callaway County. His brother, Charles, had also married and was living nearby in Montgomery County. His mother, his Aunt Elmira and cousin Rosetta are no where to be found. No marriage record has been found for Rosetta anywhere in Missouri at any time, either.
Three newspaper notices announced the death of Charles Rhodes on 23 or 24 March 1880, the Montgomery City Standard and the Fulton Telegraph and Callaway Weekly Gazette.
The 1880 mortality schedule for Missouri was lost. I would loved to have known where he was living at the time. Charles was buried in the Covington Cemetery in Montgomery County. He has a small hand carved marker made from a stone.
I suspect that there were similar stones at one time for Elizabeth, Elmira and Rosetta, but like the Rhodes family, they have been lost to time.