Francis Bittle , a head right of Nathaniel Hickman, arrived on the shores of the colonies ca 1653. Francis was the first of our lineage, to emigrate from the British Isles. Most likely coming from the London area, or perhaps having lived in Wales. The given name Francis is consistently used by his descendants. He first located in Northumberland County, VA., which became later Isle of Wight county. His son, Robert left a will in 1681 and it is most interesting to read. The Bittle clan later removed to Southampton County VA, thence to Northampton County NC, where John L Bittle was born in 1806 to John Bittle(1)/Polly Cole. John L Bittle(2) would end up moving to Illinois with his family of 6, where one finds that family in the 1818 Franklin County IL (later Union), census.
Perhaps John Bittle (1) and his family moved to the South Pass (Alto Pass) homestead on or near Dry Branch and Hutchins Creek early in the 1800’s. No records exist to prove that and if records are available perhaps someone can furnish to me. John L was 12 at the time of the census (first in Illinois Territory). He moved back to Calloway County KY, and received land grants from that state, where in 1828 he would wed Hannah L Kitts, daughter of Jackson Kitts. Lewis Kitts, Hannah’s brother would later marry Elizabeth Bittle the sister of John L. Bittle.
John L and family would remove to Illinois, Union County, Ridge Precinct, Alto Pass in or about 1832 and live on the farms established by his father John (1). Records of Union County, indicate that John L Bittle would certify that Beverly Brown, was of good character, established by the fact that they were neighbors back in Northampton County NC. (see Paul Heinigg writings located elsewhere. Unless a black was certified in 1832 by competent individuals, the law forbade them (blacks) from living in Illinois. A story for another chapter perhaps.
John L and Hannah would have several children among them my great grandparents, Lewis Mortimore and Mary Emmaline Wilson, and they established housekeeping along Hutchins Creek near Beech Grove and one had to cross or forge that creek, which could be dangerous in a flash flood situation. A 60 foot Swinging Bridge was built and if the creek was up, the method of transportation, i.e., wagon would have to be left on the main road and then proceed by foot back to the homestead, 2 story house previously mentioned. I do not remember Lewis M nor Emmaline, but among their children was Walter Doc Bittle, my grandpa. Lewis adopted Cora Lingle when she was a young girl and raised her as if she were their own child. Walter and Cora (grandma) were raised together and eventually married. My dad, Howard Rolla Bittle was born into Walter and Cora’s family along with 10 or 12 offspring. They raised all of their children on the homestead property, across the creek from a Rhodes family, who still have descendants who live there near Beech Grove.
An annual event that took place at the old homestead, was “Hog Killin”. This event was attended by all of the children and their families. Loyd, Leonard, Howard, Lawrence, Dennis, Homer and Karl and the Bittle girls, Beulah (McMahan),
Mildred (Emrick) would do the cookin, and the Bittle Boys would do the butchering and prepare the Hogs in roasts, hams, pigs feet , chops etc, and of course cracklins and Rocky Mountain Oysters. The production would be placed in the Smokehouse to cure and provide meat for the coming winter months and until next Hog Killin. The menu would always include squirrel and squirrel gravy from the hunt that morning, rabbit, deer, beef and pork, home made bread and biscuits, fried corn, fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
The adults always ate first and then the children were allowed to dine.
The fat of the hog was placed in a boiling pot of water to which lye was added to make lye soap. Butter was churned and the task of catching a chicken in the yard would left to the kids who were always attacked by a mean old rooster, it seems. That freshly caught chicken, then would have its neck rung, twisted until the head was separated from the body, and it would flop around on the ground as if still alive and scare the dickens out of us youngins. Talk about fresh and tasty.
A great family reunion indeed. In later years, the annual event was held at Merritt McMahan’s farm and always well attended. Millie, Sissy, Archie and Joe and their mother Beulah Bittle McMahan, were always gracious hosts.
To be continued…………..Chapter 16