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 The Mystery of Charles Thomas Ragland

I am asking that if anyone knows anything about this family, or has heard
any stories similar to what Charles told, please let me know, and thank you! Write to: Jacque Schwenke  at jjchef@alltel.net

Charles Thomas Ragland was born in 1844; Henry County, Kentucky.  His family moved to McCracken and Ballard Counties while the children were still young, and most ended up living in the town founded by Charles Thomasís Grandfather.

The following account was told to my grandmother, Thelma Ioma (Ragland) Sanders while still a girl.  It is the only thing Charles would say about his family. He refused to talk about it any further, and until 5 years ago, we didnít know the names of any of his family members. We found those in a book about the Ragland family entitled: The Raglands, History of a British American Family, by Charles James Ragland, Jr.

My Mother is an only child.  Her mother left this earth not knowing anything about her fathers family, so I would like to try and help my Mom find out who our Ragland family was/is.

As told by Charles Thomas Ragland :

He had  come home, possibly from a trip(?),  and his mother drew a hot bath for him. After he had lowered himself into the hot water, she came in with a some type of stick and started beating him with it..yelling something about what he had "done". Charles had no idea as to what she was talking about, but he was given his inheritance, a horse, and told to leave the family.  He was being disowned.

What we found out:

We don't know exactly when Charles left his home, but the 1880 census shows him living in his fathers household.  He would have been 36 yrs. old at that time.  We were given info that he may have stayed in Paducah, Ky for a short time at a boarding house.  That information is questionable but came from a friend that found a ďCharles RaglandĒ in the boarding house listed on a census.

Charles traveled at some time to Arkansas, settling in Ozark. He took up work as a book keeper in a store called Conatzers. Coincidentally, my Grandfather Samuel Sanders, who would some day be son-in-law to Charles, (but after Charles passes on), traveled down the mountain from his home at Mountain Top, to sell goods in Ozark, and may have even met Mr.Ragland.

While working in Ozark, Charles met my Great Grandmother, Melinda Jackson James, (cousin to Jesse and Frank James). They fell in love and married. In a strange twist to this story, a man named George Edward Lingo JR. asked for the hand of  Melinda from her father, before she married Charles.  He refused, saying it would not be right for Melinda to marry ahead of her older sister Tiny. Edward Lingo instead married Tiny, and became brother-in-law to Melinda. Remember Edward,  you are going to hear his name again in this strange story.

After Charles and Melinda married, they moved to Tom Bean, Texas, where my Grandmother, Thelma Ioma Ragland,  her older sister Carrie, and brother Ray were born. Charles ran a store there, or possibly in White Mound.  [we have not seen proof on paper of this yet]  They were a very happy and successful family during that time. He made it clear to his family that he did not want to talk about where he had come from, or the circumstances surrounding his loss of family. He only mentioned that he had a brother who was a Baptist Preacher, and a sister, whom Thelma resembled.   It wasnít until about 1961, that Thelma found out from Carrie about the story of  C.T.ís  mother whipping him.

Tiny [Melindas older sister]  and Ed Lingo [Tinys husband]  lived in the same area in Texas near the Ragland family.  Sometime in 1913 Tiny became ill, and on her deathbed, Melinda promised to take care of her children should Tiny not live.  She died February 13, 1913. [Mary Clementine (James) Lingo 1869-1913]
One day  [not before 1914]  *Charles Thomas suddenly left for the home of J.W. Sanders in Atwood, Oklahoma. [J.W. is brother-in-law to Ed Lingo, and father of Samuel George Sanders who later marries Thelma]   The story goes he was looking for Ed Lingo, and took his gun with him.   We donít know why Ed was at the home of J.W., unless perhaps for a visit.  We also donít know what happened on that trip, except that Charles was sent back home to Texas in a coffin, his pocket watch and gun missing. Thelma was 12 years old when her father died. *As recalled by Thelma

Sometime after that  [probably before 1919]  Ed Lingo married Melinda, so that they could combine both families, since Melinda felt she needed to care for her sisters children. They moved the family to Durant, Oklahoma. [Itís possible the marriage took place in Durant]

When Thelma was around 16 years of age, she and Samuel George Sanders met for the first time when he came to her house to visit his Uncle Ed Lingo.  Sometime later, they fell in love, and married in 1923. On the trip to their new home in Detroit, Michigan, the train had a lay-over in St. Louis, Missouri. Samuel decided to get a haircut there at the station, and had Thelma wait outside on a bench for him. She noticed a woman walking back and forth in front of her on the walkway, and as the woman would pass, she would look at Thelma in the face. Finally the woman approached Thelma, and asked just one question: "Would you be the daughter of Charles Thomas Ragland?"  When Thelma answered, "Yes!", the woman burst into tears and ran off.  Apparently Thelma did look just like Charlesí sister, or at least like her father.

In 1961, when Thelma and her brother Ray were grown  [Melinda had passed away]  Ed Lingo called Thelma and asked if she and Samuel would come and take him to see Ray, that he had something to give him. At the thought of seeing her brother, she agreed. Thelma and Sam would drive to Ed Lingoís house and spend the night, then drive on to Rays house the next morning. They arrived at Edís house and spent the evening talking with him. During the conversation, he mentioned again that he had something to give to Ray, and decided to show  them what it was.  Imagine their surprise when it turned out to be Charles Thomas' missing gun! Thelma was seething, but did not show it. Ed didn't realize that she and her brother Ray were aware that their father returned in a coffin without his gun.

That night, while Ed was asleep, Thelma went in and took the gun, hiding it under Samuelís "medicinal" whiskey bottle in their suitcase. The next morning when they were to leave, Ed couldn't find the gun, and thought he had misplaced it. Thelma played a game, and acted as if she were trying to help him find it, knowing all along that it was hidden in her suitcase. When they arrived at Rays house, Thelma gave the gun to her brother in private.  The gun is still supposed to be in the family, but we havenít actually seen it ourselves.

We have only one picture of Charles Thomas, shown here.
Exactly when, how, & where did Charles Thomas die? [His death was not talked about, and according to Thelma, he was buried in Old  Whitewrite Cemetery, Whitewrite, Texas..but a stone was never erected and there are no records of him being there]
Where are his siblings descendants?
A church in Grayson County, Texas who had membership for C.T. and his daughter Carrie and her husband  [Sam Bruce] sent me a copy of a letter of request  from C.T. and Mr.Bruce, asking to have membership transferred out.  The letters are dated 1914 which means C.T. was still alive, but apparently moving from the area.  We arenít sure.

Charles Thomas' parents, and siblings are as follows:
James R. Ragland

wife: Agnes A. Abernathy

Charles Thomas Ragland
wife: Malinda Jackson James

Sarah Elizabeth Ragland
husband: James Harper

Robert Luther Ragland (Baptist Minister)
[died of Pneumonia in Barlow Dec. 16, 1906]
wife & children: ?

Melissa Ann Ragland
husband: William H. Simpson
children: ?

Martha Alice Ragland
husband: P.O. Foree
children: ?

William N. Ragland
wife: & children: ?

Mary A. Ragland
husband & children ?