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Wade Hampton Wishon

My Great, Great Grandfather

In One Part


This is my tribute to Wade "Hamp" Wishon, my great, great grandfather. I hope that as you read my offering on the facts and the stories of his life, you too will come to appreciate the life that he carved out of the rugged Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. The information, facts, and stories given here, have come from several different sources. I am not saying that every detail is beyond doubt, especially dates and places. I have found differing opinions, not just on Hamp's life, but on many others. I have put the facts and stories together as best I could. Now let's go on to Hamp's story.

A Brief Backstory

Much of this information came into my hands from two different cousins. Thanks, Tony & Diana. My line of the Wishon family came from the Palantine in Germany, about 1740, moving to Pennsylvania. The original German name was Wischan, pronounced Vishkan. My ancestors moved from Pennsylanvia to what is now, Yadkin County, North Carolina, in the late 1700's. We can now pick up Wade's story.

Welcome to Hamp Wishon's Story


The information contained herein, has been provided from several different sources. Thanks goes to Tony Gay, Diana Randall, Wanda Griffith, and others unknown by name, who have worked hard to bring the Wishons and those related, a bit of our joined history back into the light.


Wade Hampton Wishon was born November 17, 1843 in Hendersonville, NC., to John and Martha (Freeman) Wishon. Wade was a fourth generation born in America.

As a young man, Wade was rather small in physical stature, only about 5'6", with auburn hair and hazel eyes. At the age of 15, his father John, moved the family from NC to parts of Tennessee and Kentucky, eventually settling in Benton Co. Ark. when Wade was 17.

When the Civil War broke out, Wade enlisted in the Sixth Regiment, Kansas Calvary on March 18, 1863 in Washington County, Ark. He was honorably discharged on July 18, 1865, with $100 of pay in his pocket. I heard he worked as a scout, in indian dress, for the Union forces. I was also told he was present at the Battle of Pea Ridge, in NW Arkansas.

In September of 1865, Wade being about 22 yrs. old, moved to Newton Co., Ark., where his older brother Isaac was living. Isaac was Wade's senior by almost seven years. While living in Newton Co., Wade met Sarah Reynolds. Wade and Sarah married Jan. of 1867, having only one child, Elizabeth [b. Sept. 1867]. After the birth of their child, for an unknown reason, at least to this writer and anyone I have spoken with, Sarah left Wade. She left him to raise the child on his own. Maybe she had to go "find herself"? I don't know. This would not be the last time that Wade would be faced with raising children on his own. With this, Wade returned to Benton County.

About two years passed before Wade "Hamp" Wishon would marry again. In 1869, Wade married Louisa Mary McAfee. With Louisa, Hamp would have four more children over the course of the next thirteen years. Louisa gave birth to,

  1. John Thomas Wishon(b. Dec. 05, 1870)
  2. Claranda Evaline Wishon(b. Aug. 23, 1874)
  3. MellDora Wishon(b. Jun. 12, 1879)
  4. William Albert Wishon(b. Aug. 22, 1882)

Louisa would live about two more years after the birth of her last child, William Albert. She died about 1884, leaving Wade to care for his five children by himself.

About a year or so later, Hamp would meet his third wife, Melzada "Sadie" Woodell, who I believe was at least half Cherokee Indian. Wade was now about 42/43 years old, and likely needed someone who had the energy to keep up with all of his youngins. Wade married Melzada in March of 1885. Melzada, at the time of their wedding, would have been somewhere between 13 and 15 years old. To this union was born another eight children. They are,

  1. Fred Hamilton WISHON b: 02 Sep 1886 in Rogers, Benton Co, Arkansas (my great grandfather)
  2. Jessee WISHON b: ABT 1886 in Rogers, Benton Co, Arkansas
  3. Maggie WISHON b: ABT 1888 in Rogers, Benton Co, Arkansas
  4. John Calvin WISHON b: 09 Mar 1889 in Rogers, Benton Co, Arkansas
  5. Guy WISHON b: ABT 1893 in Rogers, Benton Co,Arkansas
  6. Jesse WISHON b: 17 Sep 1895 in Rogers, Benton Co, Arknasas
  7. Oliver "Ollie" WISHON b: 24 Aug 1898 in Rogers, Benton Co, Arkansas
  8. Alonzo C "Lonnie" WISHON b: 02 Feb 1902 in Rogers, Benton Co, Arkansas

Melzada would pass on in 1906, being about only 34/35 years old. Again, Wade was left alone again to care for his children. At the time of Sadie's passing, at least four of the children had married.

  • Elizabeth Ann, the oldest, married Isaac Birkes in Sept. of 1889
  • Claranda Evaline married William Evans in 1897
  • Melldora married Charles White in Dec. of 1897
  • William Albert Wishon had married Ella Allen in 1900

Also, 2 of Wade and Sadie's children had died before Sadie herself had passed on.

  • Maggie Wishon died in 1901, being about 13/14 years old.
  • Guy Wishon died in 1899, being about 5/6 years old.

So this left Hamp with six or seven children to care for. At the passing of Sadie, Hamp would have been about 62/63 years old. Being about 63, and trying to rear six or seven children on your own, would be quite a challenge. One can only imagine the heartbreak Hamp must have endured, having now lost two wives by death and one by desertion. Bearing the loss of two children, at ages when they would have endeared themselves to your heart. So in witness to his strength and steadfastness, Hamp played the role of mother and father to these who still depended upon him.

Hamp, as he was called by his friends, obviously rose to the challenge. He no doubt had to rely upon the Good Lord many times. Wade is said to have joined the Christian Church early in his life, and loved to preach at church. He was known to help his sons as much as he could, in what ways he could, even helping them with their debts. Note is made that Hamp was known to his grandchildren as Grandpa Santa Claus, due partly to his long white beard and his giving disposition.

Hamp's health would decline in his later years. In Oct. of 1890, he went to War Eagle Mills, Ark., and applied for a pension on account of his rheumatism and failing eyesight. He was awarded $6.00 a month. He would apply once more in 1893 for an increase in his pension, due to his neuralgia. I give the following quote, although I am unsure as to the source. It apparently came from a doctor who examined Wade at this time.

On April 5, 1893, he applies again for increase because of neuralgia that was incurred twelve years ago. Can perform manual labor one half of time. Have no disease or affection of throat or respiration. Claimant states he was thrown from horse in 1863 while in service, while in Indian Nation and injured right shoulder which has been pronounced rheumatism. On examination everything seems normal, but the examiners believe he is entitled to 6/18 rating for the disability caused by disease of eyes. In his claim of June 10, 1912, he is asking for total disability. Wade states he has lived in Fort Scott, Kansas, Fayetteville, Ark, and Sedalia, Ark. since leaving the service.

Also in his later years, Hamp develops what can only be described as an unhealthy fear of thunderstorms. The thunder and lightening would cause him extreme anxiety and fear, for which he did at times, seek treatment. He likely had good reason for his fear. The first house he built on his land in Benton County, AR, was struck by lightening and burned to the ground. The house sat on the crest of hill, which may have made it more vulnerable to strikes. The second house he built, was built down the hill from where the lightening struck. This house was down in a valley, making it less vulnerable to lightening and raging winds. However, this didn't alleviate his fear of thunderstorms. He was known to travel to Little Rock for electro-shock treatments, but seemingly without any relief.

Hamp in Brown's Cave

Diana Randall relates one episode of this fear that occurred at the end of his life, and may have contributed to his death. It is the story of Hamp in Brown's Cave and it goes like this. [Thanks to Diana for the story]

In the last few years of his life, Wade's fear of lightning increased nearly to the point of madness. He spent a few sessions in the mental hospital in Little Rock, where it was heard that they did electro-shock therapy on him. Apparently he thought this wasn't doing him any good. In November of 1928 he refused to be taken back to the hospital when a lightning storm sent him to the cave on his place one more time. He had taken some food, supplies, and a shotgun with ammunition with him and barred the entrance. Somebody brought the Sherriff down to him to extract him from the cave, however, he held them off for several days. The storms didn't let up that Winter and apparently one of the lightning bolts hit so close to him, that his heart gave out and he died there in that cave. 08 Nov 1928.

This story always gets to me. I find it humorous and yet, so tragic. Humorous in the sense that the sheriff coming down to talk him out of the cave reminds me of a potential episode on the Andy Griffith Show, where Sheriff Taylor tries to deal with those mountain folks that he does from time to time. But it is so tragic, when you think about how terrified Hamp must have been holed up in that cave, lightening and thunder going off all around him for days on end. It must have put a terrrible strain on his aged heart. I know in Diana's story, Wade is said to have died of a heart attack in the cave. But there is other information that tells us he was eventually talked out of the cave and a short while later, passed away.

One of his sons, John Calvin, came to live near Hamp and watch over him. John Calvin had married Hanna M. Gatewood around 1908 in Eureka Springs, Ark. John C. had sworn an affidavit as to Wade's condition and need for full disability. John Calvin Wishon's affidivat is as follows,

I am a son of Wade H. Wishon. My father has been for over two years past in a bad shape physically and mentally and up to the present requires some person with him at all times. For two years past, I have been staying with him most of the time and for the past year all of the time. I am married, and either my wife or myself stays constantly with him. He has attacks with his stomach, and we have to use hot poultices to relieve him. Vision is bad about getting around and his rheumatism pains him a great deal. When he has these attacks, he is kept in bed, but otherwise he can be about the place and go about by someone being with him. I left a job in Oklahoma paying me $4.00 per day in order to be with father and see that he was and is properly taken care. His wife is dead and no other children to look after him.

Also Dr. J.H.Webb gave the following statement as to the health of Wade H. Wishon:

I have known Wade H. Wishon for over thirty years. On examination of him this date, I find him with very defective vision, able to distinguish large objects but not small ones; he is suffering from senility, and attacks of vertigo and is very hard of hearing. A rupture on the left side is complete, and a small rupture of the right side is developed. He is afflicted with rheumatism to an extreme extent. From his condition I find him wholly unable to perform manual labor, or mental exertion; and said disabilities render him unable to be by himself safely, and require the constant attention of an attendant for his safety.

Wade Hampton Wishon's life ended on Nov. 08, 1928, at 9 a.m. His obituary, as it appeared in the Rogers Democrat Newspaper on Nov. 28, 1928, reads,

Wade Hampton Wishon was born in Henderson County, North Carolina November 17th, 1843. He served through the Civil War, enlisting at the age of 18 as a Union soldier. Was honorably discharged at the close of the war from the 6th Kansas Volunteer Calvary. Shortly after the close of the war he came to Northwest Arkansas and homesteaded the farm surrounding the cemetery near Sedalia where he will be buried, having made his home there until 1912. Soon after the days of the Civil War he was united in marriage to Sarah Reynolds in Newton County, Arkansas and to this union was born one child, Mrs. Eliza Burks.

John Calvin paid $112.50 for the funeral of his father and was reimbured $107.00 by the U.S. Bureau of Veterans.

Hamp's 160 acres, received after he was discharged from the Union Army, is located in Benton County, AR. Some parcels of the land may have been sold off over time, after his death. Of this I'm not sure. What I am sure about is that as of today, of the remainder of his land, half of it is under Beaver Lake. At the right is a picture I took of his old house, on one of my trips out to the land.

So closing the life of one Wade Hampton Wishon, husband to three wives, father of 13 children, Civil War scout, farmer, lay preacher and other things that are unknown to us, who only know him through these portals of facts and skimpy stories. These may give us an outline of a man's life, but can scarce give us the feel for the man himself.

For that, we would need to sit down with Wade on the porch of his house, drinking a glass of cold water from his well, and listen as he would share life's lessons. One of which I am sure that he would relate to us, is that life is indeed short, so make the most of it while you have it. The good Lord has given you this life to live, so go and live it, enjoy it, so that at the end of your days, when you stand before the Maker of all mankind, you will know how to give an answer. And if we have lived a life according to the will of our Creator and Judge, Jesus the Christ, we will get to sit down with Wade on the porch of his house in glory, and drink that glass of cold water, drawn straight from the River of the Water of Life. Amen, Grandpa Hamp, Amen.


Hey, Grandpa, save me a place on your porch, Ok? See you soon.

END