Reprinted from Polk County Pioneers, Sep - Dec 1996, with the permission of the Polk County Genealogical Society
Moses Lemuel Ridling was born October 31, 1843, in Georgia. He came to Polk County when yet a boy. A few years later he was married to Miss Indiana McMellon on December 24, 1867.
The Ridling home was blessed with eight children. William H. was born Nov. 24, 1868. He married Bessie Barlow. James Monroe was born Dec. 8, 1870, and died in 1874. Ida M. was born June 28, 1875 and died in August 1905. She married William Schoolfield. John Lemuel was born Feb. 24, 1878. He married Nannie Hogan. Charlie M. was born Feb. 21, 1880 and died May 1, 1958. He married Lizzie Bell. Later he married Annie Lee Dean. Mary Jane Mollie was born Oct. 3, 1882 and died Jan. 2, 1958. Mollie married John William Willie Wilkins. Nancy L. was born April 10, 1884 and died in 1889. Bessie Indiana was born Aug. 8, 1886 and died March 7, 1975. She married Mr. Lindsey.
Moses Lemuel Ridling served as a soldier in the Southern army from the beginning to the end of the Civil War, and he often remarked I have a warm spot in my heart for the rebel soldiers, but I love the northern boys also now.
Bro. Ridling joined the Missionary Baptist Church in his youth and was commissioned to preach the gospel many years before he was ordained as minister in 1885. He preached many services in the little country churches in Polk County, and held summer revivals under many a brush arbor. He preached at the Vandervoort Baptist Church in the 20s.
Bro. Moses Ridlings final summons came early Sunday morning, March 14, 1926. As was the custom of the times, he lay in state in his home. Funeral services were conducted at his home at 4 oclock Sunday evening. Rev. S.A. Neighbors of Potter, a long time friend and co-worker of the deceased, conducted the service. He remarked that his beloved friend had truly lived a life of love, peace and righteousness.
Henry Milton Wilkins married Polly Moore, November 1881, in Chilton County, Alabama. Polly was born August 11, 1854, and died February 22, 1922.
The Wilkins family left Alabama, came to Texas for a short stay, and arrived in Polk County, Arkansas in 1895, to live the remainder of their lives in the Vandervoort community. Their old two story home is still standing about a mile and a half northeast of the town of Vandervoort. In its day it was one of the best homes in the community.
Henry and Polly had six children. Five children were born in Alabama and one in Arkansas.
John William Willie Wilkins was born September 17, 1882, and died April 30, 1957. He married Mary Jane Mollie Ridling on August 14, 1902.
Luther Wilkins was born August 23, 1884, and died September 25, 1887.
Claude Wilkins was born August 25, 1888. He first married Lula Blackburn. After her death, he married Ethel Cecil Capehart.
Zora Lee Wilkins was born October 16, 1890 and died June 10, 1911. She married Tom Towry.
Oscar Wilkins was born June 21, 1884, and died March 16, 1935. He married Helen Smith. He taught school at Vandervoort, Arkansas, and was school principal for several years.
Allie Wilkins was born March 5, 1896, and died November 29, 1912.
Mrs. Josie Jewell of Vandervoort, has a picture of her grandfather, Henry Milton Wilkins, operating a hand hay baler on his Arkansas farm. He made the baler and operated it by hand, a slow, strenuous process, but it got the job done in those long ago days.
There is a large plot of the Wilkins family graves in Witherspoon Cemetery near Vandervoort, Arkansas.
Mrs. Josie Wilkins Jewell, daughter of John William Wilkins, gave the following family information.
John William Willie Wilkins was born near Birmingham, Chilton County, Alabama, Sept. 17, 1882. When he was a young man he moved with his parents, Henry Milton and Polly Moore Wilkins, to Texas, where they lived a short time before coming to Polk County, Arkansas, in 1895. The rest of his life was spent in the Vandervoort community. He was a farmer and sawmill operator. He married Mary Jane Mollie Ridling, daughter of Rev. Moses Lemuel and Indiana McMellon Ridling on August 14, 1902.
The Wilkins children were Bessie Lee (May 29, 1908 - Apr. 20, 1973); William Vernon (Oct 8, 1912 - Feb. 3, 1985); Josie May (Mar. 14, 1917); Carl Odell (Nov. 7, 1919 - May 6, 1972); and Otis Victor (July 13, 1922 - Dec. 24, 1944).
Bessie Lee married Roy James, November 11, 1934. Later she married Clifford Wright, Nov. 11, 1973. Bessie was blind for a number of years before her death. Josie Mae married Jess Upchurch May 3, 1933. After his death, May 18, 1973, she married Clyde Jewell. Carl Odell married Dorothy Phillips, Aug. 22, 1942. Dorothy died in December 1986. Otis Victor was not married. He died December 24, 1944, while serving his country in World War II.
Willie Wilkins was interested in church and singing in his community. He and other neighbors built Bethel Chapel Church to serve as a place of worship in their community. Mr. Wilkins served as Sunday School superintendent for many years. His wife, Mollie and daughters were teachers in the Sunday School. Mr. Wilkins loved good gospel singing and arranged for many Sunday afternoon Singings. The little country church is still standing, but is not used for services.
The Wilkins family plot is in Witherspoon Cemetery near Vandervoort, Arkansas, in south Polk County.
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