Madison County Families

Kentucky Pioneers and Their Descendants

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Misfortune and disappointment seem to haunt the lives of some families.  Take Rice Park (1).  The second oldest child of William Parks and Mary Crews, Rice died at age 29 in the fall of 1887, of causes unknown, leaving a pregnant widow and three girls, the oldest just six.  

Their story is one of much success among considerable sorrow.  His widow managed her farm and a boarding house in town.  At least two of the girls attended the well regarded Caldwell High School.  One died relatively young, one worked in retail businesses in Richmond for 30 or more years, another married two successful businessmen, and the fourth became the mother-in-law of a chief federal  judge in the Eastern District of Kentucky.

But there were, no doubt struggles along the way.

In 1900, Rice’s widow, Bettie Ford Park, 40, lived in the Lost Fork area north of Richmond with three of the girls, Mary Collins, 18, the oldest, Bessie, 15, and Sallie B., 14.  (2)  The fourth and youngest girl, Willie Rice, 12, the one who never knew her father, lived nearby with her aunt Amanda Parks Turpin. (3)  Bettie is identified as a farmer and landowner.  

Ten years later, Betty operated a boarding house in Richmond in building she rented at 230 North Second Street, just a block from the Courthouse.  She had six boarders, 3 couples and 3 singles.  Their occupations included real estate, railway inspector, bookkeeper, stenographer and clothing sales.  Her neighbors:  James Cosby, a livestock trader, lived to her south; Richard Cobb, a merchant, to her north; Samuel Rice, Richmond's mayor, two doors north.  

 By this time, her oldest daughter had married her cousin (1st, once removed), Thomas Parks Jr. and moved to Woodford County.   The other three daughters were living with her.  Bessie, 24, was a sales lady in a confectionery.  Sallie, 22, kept books for a lumber company, and Willie, 21, clerked in a racket (five and dime) store.  Also in the family is Elmer McLaughlin, 6, an adopted son.  

After 1910, Bettie moved at least three more times.  In 1920 she lived on West Water Street, in 1930 on East Main Street and in 1940 in a rural area north of town.  Willie always lived with her.  She and Willie kept up an active social life.  The Richmond Climax periodically reported their presence at family birthday parties in the Red House area and visits to and from Jessamine County, where her oldest daughter and family lived.  

Bessie, who never married, died in 1915 at age 32.  

About 1912 Sallie married Chester Green, a music salesman from Lexington who became a boarder at Bettie’s place.  Sallie bore Green, who was 14 years older, a son, Chester Green II,  on September 22, 1913.  The child died the next day.  In 1920, Chester and Sallie lived alone on East Main Street where they operated a music store which sold pianos, organs and sheet music, popular items in Richmond’s finest homes of the day.  

In November 1920, misfortune struck again.  The Richmond Lumber Company, which was owned by Walter and Charles Soper and occupied nearly a block at the southwest corner of Main and Collins, burned.  Also destroyed was the music store and the apartment which the Greens rented from the Sopers.   The Green’s loss was estimated at $5,000.  

They re-established the business and operated it until Chester’s death in 1928.  About two years later, Sallie married widower James S. Miller, a successful businessman in Knox County who moved to Richmond about 1930.  After Miller died in 1939, Sallie lived at 222 Lancaster Avenue with Miller’s son, Warfield Z. Miller, an attorney.  

Elmer, the adopted son, went to high school, worked as a paper boy and joined the US Army.  He died in 1936 while serving his country.  

After working many years at a racket store, Willie, who never married, later sold notions and then clerked in a hardware store.  She must have been well known after working in stores downtown for more than 30 years.  

Willie who died in 1973, and Sallie, in 1947 were buried together in the Richmond Cemetery (Section R, Lot 60).  Across the cemetery (Section J, Lot 171) are the graves of Bettie, who died in 1943, Bessie, Chester Green, Chester Green II, Elmer, and Bettie’s brother Benjamin Rodes Ford Jr.  James Miller was buried in Barbourville.  We don’t know where Rice Park is buried.  Most likely it was in the Gentry/Parks Cemetery in an unmarked grave.  

Mary Collins Parks and her cousin Thomas Jr. had three children:  Robert, Bessie and Mary Thomas, Bettie’s only grandchildren.  Neither Robert nor Bessie married; Mary Thomas married Bernard T. Moynahan, a war hero, attorney and US District Judge.  They lived in Jessamine County and reared two children, Mary Patricia and Bernard T. III.  


(1) Park is the most common spelling in records and grave stones for Rice’s family.  Oral family history credits William Parks with adopting Parks as the surname.  Perhaps, he did it after Rice died.  


(2) 1900 Census of the United States for Madison County, Kentucky.


(3)Rice and Bettie also had a daughter, Maude, who died at age 3.  


The Descendants of Rice and Bettie Ford Park

            Tragedy amid togetherness in downtown Richmond in the early 1900s