1939 John Thomas Vardiman Family Reunion

27 August 1939 - Indian Foothills Park, Outside Marshall, Missouri

John Thomas Vardiman


Newspaper Article

Ernest Vardiman


John Peter Vardiman


Richard Henry Vardiman


Jerry Vardiman




Miles Standish

Bonnie Vardiman Conoway's





Cornelia "Nellie"

and John Thomas "Tom" Vardiman

Do you recognize anyone?

Bonnie's Biographical Sketch Page 1

Bonnie's Biographical Sketch Page 2

Bonnie's Biographical Sketch Page 3

Vardiman Grandsons, Thank you to Billie Vardiman and Jean Leaton Fullerton for identification.

Vardiman Granddaughters, Thank you to Billie Vardiman, Lucy Self Sullivan and Jean Leaton Fullerton for identification.

Do you recognize anyone?

"I was 13 in 1939 and had just graduated from grade school. I don't remember very much about the reunion. It was held in Marshall at a large park, but I have no idea which one. I think it only lasted one day. I think everyone brought food and there was lots to eat. There was a lot of visiting and a lot of people I didn't know. In Bud's book there is a Biographical Sketch of Thomas and William Vardeman written by Bonnie and read at the Reunion. It is dated August 27, 1939. She tells of their move to Missouri. I hadn't realized that the reunion involved families of both Thomas and William."

Email from Shirley Vardiman Anderson (John Peter Vardiman's Granddaughter) 9 July 2010

"It is correct to say the 1939 reunion was held at the park in Marshall, however the park is about three quarters of a mile beyond the city limits and its name is The Indian Foothills Park. I was around six years old at that time and can remember I never saw so many People at one time, so many cars and plenty to eat. There were a lot of kids to play with and I remember we waded in water about ankle deep and chased crawdads. 

In the picture of the 1939 reunion, all men, Vardiman Boone Nall is correct, he is the man in the middle on  the front row.

In the picture of the 1939 reunion, all women, The woman on the left is my mother, Bonnie Murle Yokeley and next to mom, is my Aunt Virginia Lathum."

Email from Dongene Yokeley (Grace Vardeman's Grandson) 13 August 2010

"I believe I remember that Mom said that even though Mom and Dad (Phil and Louise) weren't married yet, Mom was with Dad at the 1939 Family Reunion that was held at Indian Foot Hills Park. I also believe that Johnny and Luetta were already married and that she was with Johnny at the 1939 Family reunion. Johnny and Luetta were married on August 23rd or so in 1939. They eloped and got married in Buffalo, MO. Aunt Billie"

Email from Billie Vardiman 23 July 2010

Transcript "A Short Biographical Sketch of the Lives of Thomas and William Vardeman"
Arranged by Bonnie Vardeman Conaway, Daughter of Thomas Vardeman

It is meet that we, who gather here today, render this tribute of praise and remembrance to those who have gone before. We are the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews of two brothers - Thomas and William Vardeman.

We meet today partly to honor Jeremiah Vardeman, fourth son of Thomas Vardeman, who with his wife has come from Portland, Oregon to visit us -- partly because some of us have passed our our three score years and ten, and time may be short when we can meet with each other.

My father, Thomas Vardeman was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, October 2, 1838, and four years later on the same day of the same month my Uncle William was born. They were children of a large family, reared in fear and admonition of the Lord. They became Baptist ministers as did also Abraham, a younger brother of theirs.

They grew to manhood in the State of Kentucky, and both saw service as Union soldiers in the Civil War. My father enlisted October 14, 1881 -- was discharged because of a bullet wound, December 31, 1864, and then rendered eleven additional months of hospital service. I do not know in what year of the war my uncle enlisted. He served more than a year.

They were married while comparatively young men. Uncle Will married Sallie Scarce, who became our dear Aunt Sallie and the mother of his four girls. A few years later, December 8, 1866, father married Cornelia Fenwick Gaines, who became our precious mother. There they farmed, raising various grains, livestock, and tobacco; mostly tobacco.

Yielding to the general unrest and spirit of progress, Uncle Will moved his family to Indiana about the year 1876. He farmed there for awhile, and in the year 1878 came to Missouri, bought a small farm on the Marshall-Miami road and sent for his wife and four girls the same fall. They came on the river by boat to Miami where Uncle Will met them in a farm wagon. They stayed over night at a crude hotel in Miami experiencing great discomfort, and the next day proceeded on their journey by wagon to their new home.

About four years later on the fourteenth day of March, 1882 my father with my mother, six brothers and one sister, his family at that time, arrived in Marshall. Uncle Will met them in a farm wagon, drawn by four mules, and they drove out on what is now North Odell Avenue over a stumpy road through muddy Salt Fork bottoms where they stuck once, to be helped out by Messrs. Bob and Henry Irvine -- on to my uncle's farm, north and west of Marshall. He made a change of homes since coming to Missouri.

They found my aunt and cousins waiting for them in semi-darkness; their only light, a lantern and tallow candles. They had broken their lamp flues that morning in the excitement of getting ready for their Uncle Tom, Aunt Nellie, and the children.

My uncle and father were almost pioneers. The Indians were gone when they came to Missouri, but flocks of wild turkeys were in the woods -- and there were plenty of woods -- hazel brush and uncleared land. Hazel nuts, hickory nuts, and acorns were plentiful; also wild grapes, wild plums, blackberries, strawberries, and all kinds of wild game.

With the exception of one year my father and family lived on various farms north of Marshall until the year 1908. We had increased to eleven children of which I was the first "Puke." We younger members were all girls, so that we were then as we are today, six brothers and five sisters.

In that year 1908, my father bought a small farm near Nelson, Missouri, and moved my mother and unmarried children. He made his home there until the fall of 1919, when he sold the farm and bought property in Marshall, continuing to live there the remainder of his life.

Uncle Will lived north of Marshall until the year 1920, when he too made Marshall his home, living there until his death.

The two brothers and their families were, for many years, the only relatives in Missouri, and they were always friendly and had great regard for each other. One cousin says, "There was no greater pleasure in our childhood than going to see the cousins and having them come to visit us."

I feel sure all eleven of us can reiterate this statement. Going to Uncle Will's when a child, eating Aunt Sallie's salt rising bread, yellow butter, and jam, watching her rock serenely and receiving notice from the cousins was my realization of earthly heaven. My father and my uncle lived to see many marvels of science. They saw the laying of almost the first, perhaps the first railroad in Kentucky and an early one here.

One of the cousins remarked that the roar od the early trains filled her childish heart with more terror than thoughts of the Devil. Electric lighting, the auto, the airplanes were in use before their deaths. The radio with ear phones was just coming in at the time of their passing. None of these things moved their faith in God -- rather heightened their faith in Him. Did not God make man in his own image?

My father did itinerant missionary work, but held no regular pastorate in Missouri. A cousin says, "The brothers loved the Bible. Their eyes shone with joy as they discussed the great truth it contains, and in passing they pillowed their heads on its promises."

Uncle Will was a great worker for the Lord, serving four rural churches of Saline County for years. Two of them, Salem and PinOak, were orgainzed through his efforts, and the influence of his life and work will live forever. It was my privilege to attend a service in one of his churches a few years ago, and I could seem to feel his spirit present.

My father died in the fall of 1923, at the age of 85 and was laid to rest beside my mother who preceded him two years.

Uncle Will died two years later, October 1925, at the age of 83 years. Pointing upward his last words were "Mommie" (his name for my aunt), "Heaven."

Aunt Sallie lived until October 1928 when she, too, passed on and was laid beside my uncle in Ridge Park. The brothers and their wives lie close together in death.

Of my father's immediate family all eleven children are living. Of my uncle's immediate family three daughters yet live, one widowed and two unmarried. His oldest daughter Mrs. Henry Harvey died last fall. She left a fine family of six children.

Among the brothers' numerous descendants are to be found; a doctor, a preacher, a school teacher, a policeman, and many worthy followers of various occupations."

Yes, their work on earth is over,
Only we who yet remain,
Hold the banner they have left us,
May we keep it free from stain.

Side by side in Ridge Park lying
Side by side and head to head
We can hear our Savior saying,
"Only sleeping, they're not dead."

When, on Resurrection morning
They, the trumpet call obey,
There will be a glad reunion
Through God's one unending day.

August 27, 1939

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