My great grandfather was Jacob Lineberry and he was the 3rd of 10 children born to George and Rhoda Lineberry. He was born in 1871 in Carroll County, Virginia and at the age of 21 left Virginia to seek a better life for himself and the family he hoped to have one day. We know he was a man of faith, hard work and a determination to offer his children the opportunity for an education he did not have. He clearly loved his mother and desired his father’s approval though he did not respect the way his father treated his family. We know all of this because one of Jacob’s brothers kept many of his letters and, years later, gave them to one his Jacob’s sons. All of his letters are on My Tree House website but here are some excerpts that help us understand why he left his home and you can see where he sought opportunities.
July 12, 1896
It looks queer that the old gent cant get along with his children what does he expect to become of himself does he ever expect to die or not I would like to know; If he does where he will find himself. I lived in a racket and fuss all my life till I left Home I did not know how civilized people done. but I am trying to make my life happy now as possible but still I am not as happy as I would be if I was at home and could get along but know I could not and for that reason I will not come back home for a while. I would be ashamed for our relatives to know in this country how Papa does his children…
You know while I was at home that Papa was always mad and acted as though he would rather that I was in some other country and I tryed to do as he wanted me to. and I think I can make a living any where that I try to stay. If I live I expect to get married some time and if I die soon I hope I will be in peace with the heavenly Father and will have money enough to put me away. Try to live this way your self Leander and wish Papa would try and do better. you and Thomas and the rest of the children feels near to me though you may be far away and still be near. I dont like to hear of any of your being mistreated I hope Papa will try and be as a man. If he only knew my thoughts and would listen to me he surely would be better.
…Oh: home without Mother is stilled, a vacant place without Mother which can never be filled. the children will wander from place to place and no place will feel like home to them. I wish the children could stay together in peace at home. Ask Papa to treat them kindly and look out for that Great day coming by and by and be ready to meet his God in peace and all of you do the same.
April 4, 1898
…but I say not because life is too short for a person to live and die and not get out of the State. Look at Poor Mother. She lived and died in the same place almost. It is too bad. The one that loved us is gone. We can never have another one that would treat us so well.
…Tomorrow it will be five years since I left Va and the last time that I can ever see Poor Mother on this earth, but I did not think when I left home that I would never see her any more. I did not realize what it was be away from her but I do now more than ever. Leander I tell you, since I left home I have seen all kinds of women but I have never seen a mother. We never know the ways of different people until we travel a while from one place to an other.
September 18, 1898
I find a man without education is like a horse without harness.
January 21, 1900
Leander I do desire to be a Christian and expect to be, but I am too neglictfull of my self. that is the only hope we have of eternal life and we will live till we die. Sure and I don’t think it costs anything to be a Christian and gives us a much better life and gives us a better class of people to associate with. I have often thought of our Papa how he would curse and it all be for nothing and for the six years I have been away from home I have worked with hundreds of men and never used one cuss word and I find by my kindness that I may do more good amongst people or cattle; that with rough words the man who tryes to curse and force may never get anywhere. If he does get a position he can-not hold it unless it be something that a nice man would not have. I would be glad if Papa and all of us was good Christians and hope if any you Brothers do swear that you will quit it. I would be glad that Papa would keep Alex and the little ones in School and give something that no one can take with them. I can only regret that we was raised as we was you don’t know how much children ought to think of their parents that will send them to school and give them an education.
March 9, 1902
Leander it is a shame when any one gets out of Va and sees how other people done. we think that we all was started out in life without any educations and so few other people in that part of the country that is any better and all of them marrying and remarrying amongst one another and not try to educate their children. how do they expect to be anything else but ignorant. So Leander for your childrens sake try and send them to school.
January 11, 1903
If you will pay any attention to what I tell you you will leave that country just as soon as you can get out. Don’t hold your place for a big price but take what you can get. Come out here where you can live comfortably and educate your children. Bring them out of the back woods. Think of our selves and Brother and Sisters all grown and you can’t read their writing to save your life. I think that is a sin to rear children up in such a country. So if you will think of the subject as it is you will surely try and get away from that place. I look at it this way if we can educate our children it will be all the footing that they will. Is life worth living or must we live like beasts and not know how enlightened people live. I would like to impress those most important parts of our lives on your mind. So I think that is make a nice comfortable living for our selves and prepare our children for the enlighten future after we are gone. The time that will surely come soon with us.
December 30, 1905
Capital Hill, Oklahoma
As I have told you many times I would be glad to have you come out and I am sure you could make more money in this country and have a better place for your children to go to school as that is the main object for you and me as we surely see the need of an education. as I look at this life we are only living to prepare for the next life and our children that we must give an education.
February 9, 1907
Capital Hill, Oklahoma
Well Leander I suppose you are satisfied to stay in Va and not come out to Okla. I would be glad if you would come. If you could see the many advantages in this country that you never can have in Va I think you would surely come. You can make $5.00 to $1.00 in Va that is if you farm and for wages you get much better wages than in Va and you would have the advantage of educating your children something that you cannot do if you stay in Va. Leander I look at it this way — that we are only living for the benefit of our children as it wont be long till we will pass away and I dont want to leave my children and send them out into the world without any education as you and I was. Just think of that for a moment any sensible man can see plainly. If he travels over the country as much as I have he will find out that he must be educated or he will always be in the ditch he will have the hardest work always and the least pay common labor in this country gets $1.50 to 3.00 per day while sober skilled labor gets double and less work.
September 5 1914
Oklahoma City, OK
I will try and write you afew lines as I have not heard from any of you for some time, I wrote you and sister Linia but have not heard from either of you, but nevertheless I hope this will find you all well as it leaves us. just now, our eldest boy has been sick for some time with Typhoid Fever but is well now, or at least I hope so as he had two back sets that kept him down for weeks, which caused me to loose about two months work I had just traded for a stock of goods when he took sick and had to dispose of them as the stock was at another Town, this is the first sickness that we have ever had in our family but we will have to bear our burdens as they come.
The Sept 1914 letter is the last letter we have from Jacob and the family had to bear many more burdens. Probably the next burden was on October 31, 1915 when Jacob died at the age of 44 when his children ranged in age from 13 years to 19 months. Their mother remarried within the year and by 1922 she too had died leaving their children without parents. The two oldest remained on their own in Oklahoma while the 5 younger children were sent to Virginia to live with Jacob’s siblings. While they did have family looking after them, the educational opportunities in Virginia were not what Jacob desired for his children. I am unsure but I do not believe that any of Jacob’s children finished high school but most probably attained a junior high education and one or more got to high school. It seems that Jacob’s children did have a strong belief in the importance of education and instilled that in their children. Of Jacob’s 11 grandchildren several completed their college degrees and in fact advanced college degrees and have helped to fulfill their grandfather’s goals for his descendants.
Great job of excerpting his views on child-rearing, education, faith, family, etc. When we first started asking questions about Jacob’s reasons for leaving Virginia, we were certainly in the dark. How cool to have the real reasons in his own words.
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