The Pulaski County, Kentucky Diaspora

The transition from wilderness to frontier to community seems to have begin in the early 1800s for Pulaski Co. and many of the families that settled there in those early days put down deep roots - remaining for the next 200 years. After the first 50 years, though, a trickle of migration, mostly westward, began with the second generation. Following the Civil War, this trickle became a torrent, fueled largely by third generation Pulaski Countains. I have a strong suspicion that this reflects post-war malaise, that these men returned to their native soil, only to discover that they no longer felt quite at home. Some voiced the opinion that Pulaski County was no longer the “good Christian place” they remembered from their youth and set out in search of new communities. This disapora affected not just the Rainwaters, but many of the families to which they were closely and distantly related.

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Nancy Rainwater (1810-1889) and husband William Merritt Roy were among the first to move to Lawrence Co., IN., having left Pulaski Co. between the birth of their first child in 1835 and the birth of their second in 1837. [6] [49]

Between 1850 and 1860, a large number of Rainwater relations removed from Pulaski Co. to Indiana. Abraham Rainwater (1808-ca 1875), his wife Anna McLaughlin (ca 1810-ca 1875), and seven of their eight children moved to Lawrence Co., IN, where they are found in the 1860 census and where four of the children married. In 1875, the records of the White River Association of the Primitive Baptist Church in Brown Co., IN indicate that both Abraham and Anna died in that year. One of Abraham’s children, Ira Hardin Rainwater, moved to Minnesota around the time of the Civil War.[7] [194]  [401] [435]

Spencer McDaniel, Sr. (ca 1760-ca 1840) was one of the earliest settlers of Pulaski Co. In 1834, his son, Spencer McDaniel, Jr.(1782-1871) and wife Martha Derosset (b. ca 1805) moved their five children to Monroe Co., IN, and then to Morgan Co., IN a year later. Three additional children were born in Indiana. [267]

Elizabeth "Betsy" Rainwater (b. bet 1819-1822) and her first husband, Isaac Roberts (ca 1827-ca 1854) also moved to Lawrence Co., IN, taking with them Betsy’s spinster sister, Lydia (b. 1802). Following Isaac’s death, Betsy married Zachariah Loveall, and around 1861, the entire family moved to Faribault Co., MN. [7] [49]

After 1863, Betsy’s brother, William Howard Rainwater (1813-1889) moved with his wife, Minerva Ann Rayborn (1813-1895), and their ten children to Brown Co., IN., where they settled permanently. [8] [49] [193]

Thomas Hainey (bef 1840-bef 1870) and Susannah Rainwater (1834-1912) moved their family from Pulaski Co. to Linn Co., KS in 1857-1858. Following Thomas Hainey’s death, Susannah and her three children returned to Pulaski Co. where they are found in the 1870 census. She married second husband William Pitman in 1871. [8] [50] [51] [56]  [67]

Mary "Polly" Rainwater (1837-1865) moved to Linn Co., KS prior to May 1859, probably with her sister, Susannah and brother-in-law, Thomas Hainey. At least one other Pulaski Co. couple, James and Minerva Fox Weddle, moved to Linn Co., KS in the 1850s and it’s possible that they had all moved as a group. Polly married Alfred Holbrook in May 1859, was the mother of three children, and died in Linn Co., KS in 1865. Between 1865 and 1870, Holbrook married Clara Cecelia Harris, widow of Michael Carver (or Carvey). Between 1880 and 1886, all three of Polly Rainwater Holbrook’s children were married in Kansas. [7]  [8] [56] [67] [1259]

During the 1850s, Josiah S. Weddle (ca 1830-1919) headed to California with gold rush fever. Having failed to find his fortune, he returned to Pulaski Co., but at the onset of the Civil War, he and his brother, Vandalia (ca 1837-bet 1860/70), moved to Kansas and then to Texas. Vandalia was killed by bushwackers in Texas. Josiah returned to Pulaski Co. at the close of the Civil War, married his childhood sweetheart and moved the family to Sweet Home, Linn Co., OR.  [271]

George Washington Marion Duck (1828-1899) left Pulaski Co. with his wife Evalina White (1829-1891) and their two children between 1852 and 1856 and migrated to Atascosa Co., TX where he was a farmer, census enumerator and county sheriff. Seven additional children were born to the couple in Texas, and following the death of his first wife, G. W. M. married Rachel Martin (d. ca 1900) in 1892. According to his nephew, C. V. Compton, Sheriff Duck served for 25 years but never owned a gun. [7]  [9] [99] [102] [491] [1817]


John Levi Elder (ca 1837-1905) and Sciota Rainwater (1839-1908) moved from Pulaski Co. to Polk Co., KS and later, between 1870 and 1876, to Johnson Co., KS near the Black Bob Reserve, 18 miles south of Kansas City, on the Blue River. Sciota was killed in 1908 while attempting to hive a swarm of bees.[50]  [56] [347]

Miles Rainwater (1836-1914) served for two years in Company C, 3rd Regiment of the Kentucky Volunteer Infantry during the opening years of the Civil War before being discharged by the surgeon for chronic lung problems. In 1863 he moved to Kansas, possibly to join his sister, Polly Rainwater Holbrook. In 1865, he married Cornelia Ellen Sawyer (ca 1848-1922) in Linn Co., KS, where their first daughter, Mary, was born in Kansas in 1870. The family moved to California in 1875, then to Linn Co., Oregon in 1878. Though his sister, Polly, had already died by this time, Miles may have moved to join his brother-in-law, Alfred Holbrook, who had relocated there in the late 1860s. Miles and Cornelia celebrated the birth of a second daughter, Josephine W., in 1883. The family returned to California in 1896, settling in Ontario, San Bernardino County. Miles’s health declined severely in the last decade of his life and he died in 1914. Both daughters had also died by this date. He was survived by his wife, Cornelia. [8] [401] [490]


Terrell Rainwater (1846-1813) left Pulaski County after 1860 and ended up in Appleton City, Missouri in the 1870s. He established himself as a photographer and married a local girl, Esther Shoe. Between 1884 and 1887, the family moved to Sulpher Springs, Hopkins Co., TX where Terrell again established and ran a photographic studio. Some of his work still survives. Terrell died in Mexia, Limestone Co., TX in 1913. His wife died in 1941 in Trinity Co., Texas. Both are buried in Old City Cemetery in Sulpher Springs. [37] [266]

In 1875, Silas Tarter (ca 1825-1880+) took the job of immigrant agent for the Mississippi & Ohio Railroad, and moved his family to Williamson Co., TX shortly after 1880. His son, John T. Tarter (1862-1937+), a Ft. Worth cattle rancher, recalled the events of the move and life in frontier Texas to a WPA interviewer in 1937. Scans of the original document can be found on the web at Manuscripts from the Federal Writers Project, 1936-1940. [9] [331]

In 1879, Erasmus D. Compton (1841-1924) moved his wife Martha Jane Duck (1841-1912), and their three children to Taylor, Williamson Co., TX to escape the post-war atmosphere of "sinnin’, cussin’ and drunkenness" that he found all too pervasive in his home of Pulaski Co. According to their son, C. V. Compton, Erasmus Compton and his brother and sister-in-law, Joel T. (b. ca 1839) and Celina Duck Gossett (b. ca 1837), were both quite concerned about the influence of local moonshiners on their young children. The Compton and Gossett families left Kentucky in 1879, took the train to Palestine, Texas, where they settled for a year or so, before moving to Williamson Co., TX. [9] [133] [453] [491] [1817]


Following the death of his father in 1889, Josiah W. Rainwater (1843-1934) moved his wife, Elizabeth Jane Weddle (1847-1943), and their nine children to Williamson Co., TX, where Josiah founded a small farming community, named Waterloo after his home in Pulaski Co. In 1907, he moved to Oklaunion, Wilbarger Co., TX along with his wife and several of the children, making his home there until his death in 1934. Years later, one of Josiah’s daughters recalled to the local newspaper that when the Rainwater family arrived in Taylor, TX, it was a member of the Gossett family who met them at the station. One of the Gossett sons, Charles Mercer Gossett (1870-1941) would marry Nancy Frances Rainwater (1869-1942) and found a livestock feed business that would last nearly 100 years in Taylor, TX. [38] [82] [94] [133]  [328] [450] [454]

Between 1880 and 1881, Theophilus Walter Caughron (1859-1947), along with his brother, Joel Thomas Caughron (1853-1940), and their twice widowed mother, Elizabeth Gossett Caughron Gossett (1828-1900+), moved to Taylor, Williamson Co., TX. Since Joel Caughron’s wife, Leora, was the daughter of railroad agent, Silas Tarter, it is likely that he pursuaded this family to remove to Williamson Co., however, T. W.’s speedy marriage to Arizona Compton argues for a move of the heart. In 1883, T.W. and his father-in-law made a joint purchase of land in the Joseph Millhon survey of Williamson Co. [82] [133]

Ivey Tarter (ca 1838-1900+) moved in 1881 to Collin Co., TX, and then about 10 years later, to the Chickasaw Nation territory, later called Pottawatomie Co., OK. He owned 80 acres of farmland between Maud and Asher, OK. [238]

Between 1886 and 1890, William Thomas Cooper (ca 1853-1900+), his wife, Martha Jane Floyd (ca 1859-1900+), and their five children, left Pulaski Co. for Taylor, Williamson Co., TX. Three additional children were born in Texas. William Cooper’s half-brother, John D. R. Cooper (ca 1876-1894+), also moved to Williamson County, and served as the Waterloo, Texas postmaster in 1899. Patrick Green Tarter (ca 1849-1899+), another Pulaski Countian, was among his successors, serving as postmaster in 1899. [9] [11] [51] [94]

Erasmus M. Rainwater (1849-1890) is said to have died during the gold rush of 1874 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The 1880 Dakota Territorial Census lists only one Rainwater, Edward M. Rainwater, a saloon keeper on Golden Gate, Lawrence County. While the name does not match, the year of and state birth do. He gives his parents’ birthplaces as North Carolina and Virginia, which is incorrect, but they do match the birthplaces of his grandparents. The 1878 Golden Gate business directory (Wolfe’s Mercantile Guide, Gazetteer, and Business Directory) lists the business as Cox & Rainwater Saloon, while a stereogram sold on Ebay in 2003 shows the storefront of Cox & Rainwater’s Cash Store. His father’s 1884 will leaves him $200, suggesting that he was still among the living. According to a family Bible in the possession of Gary Jasper, he died of 4 May 1890 in Deadwood. He is buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery. [9] [108] [2312]


Following their marriage in Jan 1907, Oscar Rainwater (ca 1887-1945) and his bride, Ada Cooper (1889-1968) moved to Taylor, Williamson Co., TX. They remained long enough for their first daughter, Zella, to be born, but ultimately chose to return to Pulaski Co. prior to the birth of their first son, Velber, in 1909. Unfortunately, they brought with them the measles that proved deadly to Oscar’s father, William Harrison Rainwater (1863-1909). [157] [236]

Spencer Grant Weddle (1867-1931) was born in Pulaski Co., but sometime after 1880, he removed to Logan Co., AR where he met and married Martha Frances Sharp in 1888. At least 5, and possibly 7 of the children were born in Arkansas, but before 1906, the family had moved to Indian Territory. In that year, the 8th and final child, Oscar Jack Weddle, was born in Scipio. A few years later, the most of the family moved to Jackson Co., OK, though at least one member, John Perry Weddle, remained in Scipio. [9] [285]

Joseph Roy Garner (1864-1922) also left his Pulaski Co. home following the 1880 census. He married Margaret Donnelley and, their first child, Lottie, was born in 1890 in Dorrance, KS. Three years later, their second child, Leo, was born in Taylor, Williamson Co., TX. Margaret died between 1893 and 1896, and Joseph Garner married Jennie W. Teague in Palestine, Anderson Co., TX. The couple had three daughters. Lottie Garner eventually returned to Pulaski Co., KY for a visit, met and fell in love with her future husband, Fred Rainwater. The couple remained in Pulaski Co. where both were school teachers. [9] [157] [475]

Between 1890 and 1895, Milford Enoch Rainwater (1850-1900+) and his wife, Permelia Ellen Garner (ca 1849-1900+), moved their large family from Pulaski Co., KY to Williamson Co., TX where they are found in the 1900 census. One daughter, Julia, was born in Texas in 1895. [9] [11]

It’s generally held that Sarelda Rainwater Chumbley moved to Whitewright, Grayson Co., TX in the 1880s following the death of her husband, Alexander. This, it turns out, is about a decade early. In fact, both Sarelda and Alexander Chumbley family moved to Fannin Co., TX in 1893. Alexander died two years later and is buried in Hope Cemetery (formerly Sweat Box Cemetery) in Hunt Co. Sarelda and Alexander’s sons, Lewis and James, moved to Arizona around the time of their father’s death, while John Perry Chumbley settled in Grayson Co., TX. He and a great many descendants are buried in local cemeteries. [17], [420], [1409], [1413]