Monday, June 16, 2014


Celia at one of our early Kilgore Cousins Reunion

DATE: Monday, June 9, 2014

Johnny Kilgore
Beatrice Kilgore
Pat Shubert Kilgore
Celia Spain Johnson

This is a short journal of a special day I spent recently—a day visiting my first cousin, Celia Spain Johnson of Hampton Cove, Alabama.  My wife Pat was away with a group of ladies from our church, so I decided to visit my mother in Nauvoo, Alabama during this time.  I went up there  on Sunday afternoon.  The plan was to visit Celia the following day.  I had worked it out with both Mother and Celia.  Since our drive would take us right by my brother Ricky’s home, we picked up his wife Pat to also go with us.  

Celia is the third -born daughter of Ted and Ruth Kilgore Spain.  Ruth was one of my Daddy’s older sisters. She had four daughters —Frances, Annette, Celia, and Joan. Joan was my age and my childhood playmate when the Spains lived in the Nauvoo area.  During those formative years, my father was Forest Ranger of Winston County and Uncle Ted was his assistant.  They both led busy lives  because Winston County was almost totally forest land  interspersed with small farms.  The timberland needed much attention and care because of the threat of fire, and the reality of consuming wild fires. Ted and my father were “on call” both day and night.

When Papa Virge Kilgore died in 1949, the opportunity came for Ted Spain to purchase a house and some land owned by Granny Kilgore.  I think the reason might have been to help Granny  financially. This is the same house that my Aunt Ruby and Uncle Johnny lived in from 1944 to 1947 before moving to Birmingham.  Ted and Ruth purchased the property and house behind Jess Lawson’s place sometime in 1950. This is the present-day property of the Carl McKeever family, another part of our large family. At the time,Ted and Ruth lived in Poplar Springs. They lived in the house approximately 18 months before moving to Guntersville, Alabama where Ted acquired a job as Forest Ranger of Marshall County, Alabama.  

When my Uncle Carl and Aunt Lois McKeever returned from the coal mines of West Virginia (I think it was in 1951), they lived with Granny Kilgore, and then moved into the house owned by Ted and Ruth.  In 1954 that house burned and the McKeevers lost all their possessions.  Ted and Ruth lost all their investment in the purchase of the house, as well as their income from  the rental of that house.  Very few in our family know the large impact that fire had, not only on the McKeevers, but also on the Spains. I can personally remember coming home from school and being told the news of that fire.  It was one dramatic and tragic time for all affected.   At some point the property changed hands, and the community helped build a new home for the McKeever family.  

After the Spains’  move to Guntersville, we only saw them during special family gatherings, decorations, or short visits.  As a teenager, I can recall my brother Mike and I staying a whole week with them during the summer.   We had a wonderful time.  

Celia was a beauty queen during her younger years, and that beauty has certainly not faded with age.  After graduation, she worked at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.  Celia has lived all over the world as a civil service employee of the United States government, with the countries of Germany and South Korea being her longer stints.

Mother and I left her house about 8 am, and arrived in Hartselle, Alabama to pick up Ricky’s wife Pat about 9:15 am.  We left Ricky’s home about 9:30 pm, and arrived in Hampton Cove about 10:30 am.    Hampton Cove, a community southwest of Huntsville, is quite beautiful…very new….and a picture of affluence.  Following Mapquest’s directions, I drove up to a patio home, only to find  that I had the wrong address.  I called Celia, and she answered while standing at her front door of her home, just across the way from where my car was parked.  Mother and Pat were already out of the car, and so they walked to Celia’s house, while I drove the car to Celia’s driveway.

 When we entered Celia’s home, what  I saw could only be described as sheer elegance.  The small but tastefully decorated dining area was like something seen in movies.

We had the tour of the remainder of her home, while I asked questions about this and that.  Every room was filled with art objects and antique furniture she had acquired in her assignments overseas.  The furniture was beautiful, and the window treatments were luxurious.  The far-east Korean art objects were so unusual, and displayed in such a way that the emphasis was on the object’s beauty.  The entire home was probably one, if not the most, tastefully decorated spaces I’ve have ever seen.  

After viewing the house, which included 4 bedrooms, one of which was made into a music room, we sat down and talked about family, life, and plans for lunch.  Celia is quite a conversationalist, and there was never a lull in the conversation.  We finally decided to have lunch at  Gibson’s in Huntsville, a BBQ place that also features catfish and other items.  Celia and I ordered whole catfish, Mother ordered catfish strips, and Pat had a baked potato with BBQ chicken on top.  The meal was very enjoyable.  Afterward we returned to Celia home, and sat on the back patio porch to talk about all kinds of subjects—-some very personal to Celia.  I realized  that Celia is one strong, transparent, and courageous person.  Our day with her ended about  4:00 pm.  It was a good visit.

When we returned to Ricky’s and Pat’s home,  Ricky was already home from work, so we stayed about an hour, and then Mother and I headed back to Nauvoo by way of the county roads that run into U.S. 278 from Hartselle to Addison.  We were back at Mother’s place by 6:30 pm.  I stayed the night there, and then headed to Birmingham early Tuesday morning.  

Here are some the photos  I took during my visit to Hampton Cove. 

Thank you Celia, for being such a wonderful hostess and an even more terrific cousin.  You’re tops in my book.

Johnny Warren Kilgore.  Celia always calls me Johnny Warren.  One of the few people that do so.



  1. Enjoyed this very much, but I will make one correction. We moved from Poplar Springs into the house with Mama Kilgore after Papa Kilgore died. I believe it was Uncle Ordis who helped Daddy wire the house we bought from Mama Kilgore and we did live in it. We were living there when Mrs. Boshell was murdered.

  2. Thanks, Joan for clarifying this. I think we all lived with Granny Kilgore after Papa Kilgore died. I know that my father and mother lived there for a short period also. In fact, I think they were the first ones to live with Granny (maybe 3 months). Then your parents followed. I think Mrs. Boshell was murdered in 1951. When did you move move to Poplar Springs? I'm going to correct the statement about not living in house. Thanks.

  3. "Hats off" for all your good work toward establishing Kilgore History. Total accuracy is difficult since we all seem to have our own selective memory as we get older, so I don't want to quibble. However, there are a few corrections/questions in Chadwicks' minds that maybe the MdKeever men, Spain ladies, Sherers or others can help us to get it as right as possible. First, our recall is that Mother and Daddy bought what became the McKeever home from Grandma and Grandpa Kilgore and we lived in that home from 1944-47 before moving to B'ham. Many relatives lived there with us time-to-time including Lorene & Ordis and Daddy's brother, Minzer Chadwick, , who later lived down the road apiece with his family. The McKeevers, as we recall, bought the house but not timber nor land with Uncle Minzer's house, from Mother & Daddy as we moved to B'ham . When the McKeever home burned in 1954, yes; everyone was devastated. As we heard across the years, Daddy had timber cut from his land, saw milled, and he and Jack Sherer both took a week of vacation from their respective jobs and joined with others (community or? , I don't know) in rebuilding the home. Maybe Joan, Mary Beth, or some one else can help clarify the details, but we Chadwicks want the record to reflect that WE WERE THERE!
    Thanks again, Johnny!

  4. Nelda, I thought your Dad and Mom worked the land and build a home behind the house that the McKeevers lived in. It was closer to Bumkun (not sure of the spelling.) You are right, it is difficult to be totally accurate when we all remember only certain parts of that era. I report basically what has been told to me. I was only 5 yrs. old when Papa Kilgore died. In no way would I want to suggest the Chadwicks were not there. Uncle Johnny and Aunt Ruby were on the Nauvoo scene even when they moved to Birmingham adding to the fun memories of us who lived on Route Three, Nauvoo. As you know, all of Papa Kilgore's children were close, supportive, and lived as a very tight-knit loving family. That is what makes our large Kilgore cousins group so unique, and basically foreign to today's world. I'm so glad you responded in a manner that will help us to get a more accurate picture of those early days. It is feasible and still works within the frame work of what I wrote that your parents lived in the McKeever house first, while Papa Kilgore was alive. When he died in 1949, and your folks lived in Birmingham, the next in line to live there were the Spains. I know that they actually owned the house when it burned down in 1954. When your folks lived next to Papa and Granny Kilgore, did they own the house and land, or lived there renting from Papa Kilgore? As a young kid, I only remember that your parents farmed the land behind the McKeevers. Thanks.