Tales Of The Bible

Hello to family, friends and followers of Bartholomew Stovall.  It’s been three months since my last posting and for this, I do apologize.  I find myself in a place where life’s realities and my six-year-old grandson dictate my time.  Most anything I do that involves our ground zero grandfather is surely a blessing during this period of my life.  I would like to say thanks to all of you who have encouraged me with kind words,  contacted me for information, responded to posts, or purchased our book.

But for the present, I’m sharing this post to provide insight on a certain story-line that stretched out over several chapters of our novel, Bartholomew Stovall –  The English Immigrant.  I will ask that you please bear with me while I try and unwind this true tale of how fiction is created.

The Tyndale Bible played a large part in the book of Bartholomew.    When his Great Grandfather, George Stovold, received his copy in 1585, he understood that it was a holy book.  For the remainder of his life, George wrote of personal experiences to reveal the truth in the scriptures.  Sometimes he would underline a verse or jot down his thoughts and understandings in the worn margins of the book. By the time the Tyndale was placed into the hands of ten-year-old Bartholomew, it was filled with wisdom from three generations passed.

It is also written that, when Bartholomew reached the age of eighteen years, he made the decision to immigrate to Colonial America as an indentured servant.  He was prohibited from carrying the Bible with him, so he asked his friend from birth, Sara Gentry, to watch over the book until he could give her an address to forward it.

Sarah Gentry kept the book safe for twenty years, but on Christmas Eve, 1704 she received a letter from her old friend requesting that she send the book addressed to: Bartholomew Stovall, Kennon Plantation, Virginia Colonies.  As fate would have it, Captain Peter Pagan of The Booth, was flagged down on the street in London, England by a courier who offered him a sum to deliver the package from Sarah, to Jamestown, Virginia.  When Pagan saw that it was addressed to Bartholomew Stovall, he consented to the transport.

Now, fast forward to the year, 1705.  Elizabeth Kennon, John Worsham, and Peter Pagan are riding in a carriage from the Kennon Plantation bound for the home of Bartholomew and Ann Stovall.  With them they carry a proposition that would award Bartholomew 320 acres on the James River in return for his farm in the wilderness.  Although Bartholomew would not be able to refuse the generous offer, it was not the only prize that he would be given during their brief stay.  Mrs. Kennon had intercepted the package from Peter Pagan and planned to return the coveted treasure from Bartholomew’s youth, the Tyndale Bible.

During the day long excursion to the “farm in the wilderness”, Elizabeth devoured the notes written in the Bible’s margin.  She moved through each page but was particularly drawn to one underlined verse.  Inserted in the pages, written in clear penmanship was the entire text of the book of Ecclesiastes.  Chapter one, verse three was underlined and read:

 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. 

When I was writing our novel, I thought this passage was the essence of Bartholomew’s story, but I was soon to realize that I had written an error.

During the initial writings of Bartholomew, I was sitting at my desk thumbing through KJV version, searching for a relevant verse for Elizabeth Kennon to find that would make her take notice.  The task was taking too long and I became frustrated.  I closed the cover of the Bible and thought.  I remembered someone saying, if you have a question, just say a prayer, open to any page in the Bible, and put your finger on a verse.  There will be the answer to your prayer.   I stared down at the Bible and then reached for the lower pages.  I flipped through until I stopped and then opened the book.  Very slowly and deliberately I put my finger down to a verse and saw Ecclesiastes 1-3.  When I read the text, I was… stunned.  What were the odds of me finding this most relevant phrase?  I knew that there was no need to look further and vividly remember transferring each word to my manuscript thinking how lucky, or blessed, to have found this scripture.

Several days later I was editing some of my work until I came to the words about Ecclesiastes.   But the thought occurred to me that the Tyndale Bible don’t contain all the books in the KJV.  It was a worrisome thought until it was confirmed.  William Tyndale ran out of time before he could publish the book of Ecclesiastes.  You see, while he was busy converting the scrolls to English, the Holy Roman Catholic Church had him arrested for heresy, and executed.

The thought never occurred to me to remove the verse, so I set about the task of writing around my mistake. I envisioned that Bartholomew should have copied the chapter from an original KJV of the scriptures and insert the pages into his Tyndale.  Just like that, you have a Tyndale with a bonus of Ecclesiastes.

But it was only one of the several stories that needed to be written before Bartholomew was finished.  Primarily, I wanted to bring Mary Wilkie into the story line.  Mary was the beautiful lass, one year younger than Bartholomew’s 18 years, that traveled the passage aboard the Booth, from the Port of London.  She was shy and kept to herself, but soon enough she and Bartholomew came to be good friends.

What I’ve not told you is that, I intentionally left small traces of her all throughout the book.  I did this purposely because I planned for my next novel to be the story of Mary Wilkie.

The Booth

But I had yet to drill into the details of her life.  So, I crafted a tale of Bartholomew and Mary during the passage.  Sometimes they would sneak away from the other servants at sea and climb up to the base of the mainsail.  There, they would find a place in a bundle of rope and share stories.

Bartholomew would often question Mary about her past, but she never offered anything other than, “I had to leave.”  But on one occasion, Mary would tell him of happier times in London, when she worked for a printer or the times she helped her Mother with the weaving of the yarn.  But then her mood turned grievous when she spoke with disdain that, “It was all taken from me,” and that she was “forced” to leave.

During this same encounter, Bartholomew would tell her of his love for the Tyndale Bible that he had to leave behind.  When he tried to explain to her how he separated the page spine and inserted his hand-written copy of Ecclesiastes, he was surprised when Mary asked him details of how he had done it.  Evidently the young lady had a knowledge of binding and printing books, which led him to believe that there was more to Mary Wilkie than he first thought.

It took more than three pages to clarify one of my errors, but it also allowed me to ‘formerly’ introduce Mary Wilkie as a character.  Those three pages also allowed me to tell a story of Bartholomew’s youth.  Factually, nothing is written about Bartholomew Stovall from age ten to eighteen.  I found it easy to fill in a short but relevant tale of fiction, and I readily admit that it was one of the most enjoyable writing sessions I experienced.

While creating our novel, I remember spending days, or weeks researching applicable subjects.  I would assemble the facts and then translate them into an engaging story line.  It was a tedious but rewarding progression measured sentence by sentence.  But editing and crafting story lines, like this example, is much more rewarding for this author.

William Robert Stovall Sr.




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Revised Novel Is Now Available


Greetings to family, friends and followers of Bartholomew Stovall.  It is with great  pleasure . . . relief . . . and liberation that I bring you good word on our novel.  I should receive copies of the revised, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant on May 12, 2017.  On this day, I will begin the process of delivering autographed copies to the many who emailed bartholomewstovall@hotmail.com.  I’ll respond to each one of you no later than May 7, 2017 with ordering information.  Everyone interested should visit www.bartholomewstovall.com and click on “Order Autographed Hardback Copy” under the “Order Book” tab.

May 12 marks almost one year ago to the day that I made the initial revisions to the original version.  Bartholomew had received high marks from critics and the reviews were overwhelming, but I knew I could make a tighter novel should I identify more inclusive phrasing and correct obvious errors from this self-published book.

Our novel has been removed from circulation for nine months while modifications were made and proofing completed.  I would like to thank each one of you for your patience during this arduous process.   Thank you for all the encouraging emails, letters, and web page comments since our first release.  Thank you for your interest in our revised version and rest assured that we now have an, ever so better, recorded account of our American, ground zero, Grandfather.

Peace Be With You,

Bill Stovall

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A Time of Gathering. . . and Taking Care of Business

Oct9bookcoverGreetings to all friends, family, and followers of Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant.  It’s been weeks since the last entry and I apologize for my extended leave, but now, I do feel that I should provide an update of the goings on with my family and to share some news and information concerning the release of our novel.

This an incredibly fast-moving period in the lives of us all, but for my family, we are approaching a six-month anniversary of life here in Nashville, Tennessee.  This landmark span focuses on every aspect of life, but mostly centered on domestic transformation, and the completion and release of our novel, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant.  I am extremely thrilled to advise that there is good news to report concerning these facades of our journey.

We left our large home in Atlanta, Georgia in August, 2016, to relocate and start fresh in the epicenter of my wife’s immediate and extended families.  After Ti and I made the decision to relocate we had few options, so we chose to simplify matters and placed ourselves in a 232 sq ft studio located in the back of our nephew’s home.

Our Humble Abode

Our Humble Abode

We survived trial after trial, until realizing that “temporary residence” did have an unspoken, literal time frame.  Then, after five months. like a miracle, our nephew had the need to vacate his home for a larger dwelling, and offer for us to occupy “the house house up-front”.    It was perfect timing, as it made our “temporary status” much more tolerable.

The adjustment period for our new life plan is developing favorably for our family, to the point that I would conclude, regardless of our sacrifice, we made the correct decision to be near family.


Teacher Of The Year - Ti Stovall

Teacher Of The Year – Ti Stovall

Ti has returned to teaching, recently joining the MNPS District here in Nashville.  I shift my focus daily, to the duty that beckons my needs.

 .  .  .

Their is a boatload of tasks for husband and wife, but the singular effort that didn’t fall off my radar was to reintroduce Bartholomew.


Bartholomew Full Cover

.   .   .

Shortly before leaving Atlanta I decided to shut down our novel and try to make it a better book.  The last tasks I performed before I departed Georgia,  was notifying my publisher and close circulation of the published piece.  I had no copies left to mail and no one could request Bartholomew from retail outlets.

Little did I know that word was spreading about Bartholomew and his early, colonial exploits.  Within two months I had more solicitations than the previous year.  The momentum of our novel had peeked and I had a dead book.

Now, six months later, our novel is ready for print.  I’ll go out on a limb and predict that copies of Bartholomew should be available by April Fool’s, 2017.

Please visit www.bartholomewstovall.com/order-the-book and get your copy of our novel.  I’ll keep this link updated with order details, as they develop.

Thanks to all of you who have kept in touch with the exploits of my family.  Things are certainly looking up from this end.

Peace be with you.


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New Developments – Francis Emma – Nov 16, 2016



In an unprecedented development the Stovall nation and everyone who has an interest in the preservation of Francis Emma and the original farm of Bartholomew Stovall The Immigrant, has been asked to contribute money to purchase the twenty-two-hundred-acre historic site.

The newly formed group, Belmead on the James(BoJi), released a statement on November  1, 2016 introducing the public phase of the funding project.  The program named “100 X 4000” is requesting that four thousand volunteers contribute $100 each.

St Francis de Sales and St. Emma

St Francis de Sales and St. Emma

This would provide for the money to purchase the property and buildings.  If the campaign is successful,  Sisters Maureen, Elena, Jean, and Beulah will be asked to remain and care for the property. otherwise, they are scheduled to leave Belmead in January 2017.

Please note that if the goal of 100X4000 is not reached, BoJi will move to alternative plans that influence the preservation of the mission on or near the site.  Please understand that your contribution will not be in vain if our goal is not acheived.  Funding that is not used for operations/purchase would provide for future alternative plans;  However, 100X4000 will remain the number one option.

Please view http://www.belmeadonthejames.com/our-cause to read the complete press release.  This web site also gives instructions on how to donate.  In addition please read the prior post on this blog to help understand how this amazingly spiritual place came to be.

Having said all of this, I feel certain that if $100 is out of your means, BoJi will appreciate any sum you feel would be in your budget.  Please stay tuned for the results of this effort.

James River at Belmead

James River at Belmead

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Relocation, Rest and Updates from William Stovall

Hello friends and relatives of Bartholomew,

I have been very inattentive to our web page, but read on and the reason will become obvious.

My wife and I have relocated from Atlanta (Kennesaw), Georgia to Nashville (Madison) Tennessee.  God laid out a plan that made the decision easy.  We will miss our large wonderful home in Georgia, but being united with family in Tennessee makes it worthwhile.

We’ve rented our villa in Kennesaw for one year, and will reevaluate what we’re going to do once we grow up.  After some deep soul sharing, Ti and I decided to give four students at Kennesaw State University one less thing to worry about while they finished their senior year of college.  Student housing is scarce in our area.

Both my wife and I have wanted to move close to her family and to mine for a number of years, but job and other obligations have kept us in the Atlanta area.  Then, in the Spring of 2016, God started working his magic.  A quick turn of events had my son relocate to Nashville, shortly followed by his wife and our grandson.  With no reason to stay in Atlanta, we considered that the stars were lined up, so we pushed in our chips and started a new life.

Yes, God may lay out plans, but I’ve come to the conclusion that, as awesome as those plans may be, they don’t come for free.  We had to spend many $ to make our home appropriate for tenants. Regretfully, we decide to do most of the work ourselves.  By the time we were ready to MOVE, both of us were exhausted.  But we pushed on and finally had our belongings in a Nashville storage facility by mid-August.  We made a quick sprint back to Atlanta to put final touches on the house before the tenants invaded us, and then finally arrived back in Nashville on July 30, 2016.

Flooded Storage

Flooded Storage

Exhausted and in need of a bed I went straight to our storage facility to fetch a mattress and box spring.  Oh, just let me get these to my humble abode, I thought to myself, until I raised the door and realized that our worst case scenario had come to pass.  Most everything we owned was sitting in a flooded storage shelter, our mattress and all of our bedding included.

We closed the unit’s door, drove straight to Mattress Firm on Galatian Pike, and was laying on a made bed within two hours.  This was our new home.    Home of Bill and Ti Stovall with our cat, Karma.

There are many positive things that’s come from us being so close and available to our family members.  Regrettably our beloved cat, Karma, was not in Gods long term plan.  She had always been an indoor/outdoor cat.  One day early on we let her walk around outside and take a look.  She never looked back.   It’s been over a week and no one has seen hide nor hair or her.

Our Humble Abode

Our Humble Abode

My humble abode looks and feels nothing like our large home back in Georgia.  It’s one room with a private shower/commode combination that, thankfully, offers privacy.  It’s about 300 sq feet and filled with love and compromise.  The “room” sits in the back of my nephew’s house and is more than enough room for Ti and I to rest and contemplate our future.

For those who are interested, I plan on closing down our novel, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant, edit some of the content, and make it a better novel.  No one will be able to order the book online until I re-release it; probably in October.  I do have a small quantity of hardbacks/softback copies available that can be ordered from me directly.  I’ve changed my address on our web page www.bartholomewstovall.com, but I can be found at 913 Vantrease Rd, Madison, TN 37115.

Home is where your story beginsAnd finally, the new novel, Mary Wilkie, is developing very well.  The story line is complete and writing is 100 pages in.  For those who have read the novel, Bartholomew, remember that Mary sailed the passage with Bartholomew.  He is intertwined into the story and I’m very proud of this work.

Again, I do apologize to my friends on FB at Bartholomew Stovall, and www.bartholomewstovall.com.  Each day I find more time to dedicate to our work.

Peace be with you.

Bill Stovall





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FrancisEmma Closure – What We Know

FrancisEmma Updates



More details are surfacing about the liquidation of FrancisEmma, in Powhatan, County Virginia.  I’m not local to the Powhatan area, so I receive information in bits and pieces; each article shedding more light on the sale of this sacred property.

In a recent article published by the National Catholic Register I noticed that the Catholic Church is taking more of an attitude that Katherine Drexel’s project has been completed and that her gift of land and money should be used to rededicate its resources to “our mission: serving some of the most vulnerable people in the United States, Haiti and Jamaica.”
The people of authority over this Catholic project, want to take a slow approach to liquidation.  First they will take advantage of non-binding properties in order to capitalize on the value, as well as setting a precedence for closure. 

We do know that St. Katharine Drexel’s body will be moved to Philadelphia’s Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.  As stated in the article, the archdiocese will take control of many of the archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Bensalem, PA.

In this article from the National Catholic Register, there was little talk of the 2,200 acres in Powhatan, County and absolutely no talk of preserving the ecological and historical wonder that has been left for mankind.

Just as important is the lack respect their actions show for the development of property once owned by the immigrant Bartholomew Stovall.  Bartholomew was an early Colonial settler and has a documented lineage of well over one million offspring.

Follow the link provided for the full article.


.  .  .

But then, Laura McFarland News Editor, Richmond Times Dispatch:

James River at Belmead

James River at Belmead

On December 17, 2006, a conservation easement was placed on 1,000 acres of the land, according to FrancisEmma’s website. The Conservation Easement is a legal agreement between the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and the co-holders of the easement—the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the James River Association.”

A new owner would also have to be mindful of the fact that Belmead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places”, she said. “It was added in 1969.

Please view the link below for the full article.


What Now?

The future of the 2,265 acres is uncertain, because FrancisEmma no longer exists.  I don’t expect the buildings at Belmead will survive.

Sister Sandra Schmidt, spoke on the behalf of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament saying that, that they intend to sell the historic 2,200 plus acre property in Powhatan County that “has gone through incarnations as a plantation, home to two schools for black children and, more recently, has been building a reputation for its conservation and preservation efforts.”

“These buildings were built for having a large group of sisters. As time goes on, we looked at all the space that is not used, underused or just totally vacant and that is a big player in our decision,” she said.

Added to that, they are old buildings that take a great deal of maintenance, she said. The order’s goal is to “have money go into people, not keeping up old buildings.”

As for myself, I’m saddened by the decision to sell the gift of Katherine Drexel.  I feel there is still a need to maintain a presence by these loyal nuns.  I also think that if the Catholic Church would throw some of their money at this project, they wouldn’t need to go searching for another cause.  The need is already there for those in need of help.

But just as depressing is the thought that all of that wilderness area could be lost to development.  This area looks much like it did when Bartholomew Stovall wandered the banks of the James River, deciding if this was the spot where he should dig his boots in and raise a family.  But with the strike of a pen, all of this natural beauty could be lost forever.


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FrancisEmma Update

The Wetlands FrancisEmma

The Wetlands FrancisEmma

As you all are aware, FrancisEmma is going to be sold.  It will, most likely be split up and converted into subdivisions with expensive, stately homes.

How unfortunate that shortly after a successful campaign and labor intensive project was completed to secure the primary buildings, that The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, located in Bensalem, PA made the decision to liquidate the property.

But those left at FrancisEmma in Powhatan, VA are working with their alumni, state legislators, and Belmead supporters in an effort to retain the property.  I just received the information below in an email:

Dear William Stovall,

The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia announced that they are going to sell Belmead.  Saturday a group of about 400 people gathered for a prayer and press conference.  Alumni, community members, Riding Club (with about 40 horseback riders!) religious leaders, spoke to the press and the world about this impending loss to the national community of this historic and natural preservation for education and peace. 

This announcement has stunned the FrancisEmma Board of Directors, staff, administration and a nationwide community of supporters.  

There will be a historic walking tour this coming Saturday, May 21st.   


Stay tuned for additional information.  


Richmond Times Dispatch: Michael Williams


Sign the petition. Read responses. Add your reactions.  Click link  https://www.change.org/p/sisters-of-the-blessed-sacrament-belmead-in-peril-help-save-a-national-treasure

I would also encourage each of you to view the following video taken by a drone’s flyover of the historic FrancisEmma property.



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Original Farm of Bartholomew To Be Sold

FrancisEmma and Bartholomew Stovall’s Farm To Be Sold

In an article released Thursday, May 5, 2016 by the Richmond Times-Dispatch stated that the leadership team of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament announced the unexpected sale of the 2,200 plus-acre property in Powhatan County.



POWHATAN – Local supporters of FrancisEmma are still reeling after a surprise revelation from the leadership team of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament announced the unexpected sale of the 2,200 plus-acre property in Powhatan County.

The sale, which was announced on Tuesday, May 3, came as a complete shock to the five nuns who live and work on the property and the FrancisEmma Inc. board of directors, which manages it, said Sister Maureen Carroll, executive director of FrancisEmma Inc.

Carroll said the sisters who live with her at Belmead on the James and the board found out a few days before the announcement went public, but they are still in shock and disbelief.

“The sisters here at Belmead are extremely distressed by the announcement that went out,” she said.

Local reactions

The nuns’ feelings were echoed by community members in Powhatan County and elsewhere who have been working to both preserve and strengthen FrancisEmma for years.

There are generations of people with strong personal ties to FrancisEmma’s history as the location of St. Francis de Sales, a school for young black women, and St. Emma, an industrial and agricultural institute and a military academy for young black men. Before they closed in the early 1970s, these schools educated close to 15,000 students.

In more recent years, people have become entranced with the property’s beautiful setting and ongoing conservation work to protect the land and the wildlife it supports.

“FrancisEmma is a place of beauty, of history and of peace and it is a very important part of local history,” Carroll said.

Jennie Shuklis, chairman of FrancisEmma Inc., was at the board of directors meeting on Saturday, April 30, when the news was first announced and said it felt like she had the wind knocked out of her.

“There is shock, sadness, anger, grief. There is tremendous grief. Different board members have different feelings. Those are my personal feelings I have been working through,” she said.

Patricia Gunn, a former board member, wasn’t at the meeting but found out by email. For Gunn, the news was extremely personal. She is an alumna of St. Francis de Sales, just like her mother before her, her sister, and several cousins.

Only two months earlier, Gunn, who is chair of the FrancisEmma unto the Seventh General Capital Campaign, had spoken proudly of her time at the school at the dedication on March 5 of a new museum at Belmead Mansion that celebrates the property’s rich history. She also spoke of a bright future thanks to the many supporters who had rallied behind FrancisEmma in recent years.

So to learn about the sale of the property so abruptly was devastating, she said.

“I was deeply saddened and sorely disappointed that the work that has been so fruitful in the past 10 years was suddenly brought to a halt with no prior notice to the board, any of the Powhatan community, or any of the people in the state of Virginia who have been working so hard to preserve this history, this legacy and the land with so many species,” she said.

Carson Tucker, who represents District 5 on the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors, said he and others are dismayed by the surprise decision of the executive team of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS) in Bensalem, Pennsylvania to liquidate the FrancisEmma property.

The St. Francis de Sales and St. Emma schools established by Saint Katharine Drexel to give young black boys and girls access to a quality education have been part of the fabric of life in Powhatan County for more than a century, he said.

“They have represented SBS’s, Saint Katharine Drexel’s, and indeed the church’s highest commitment to humanity, equality, the environment and education,” Tucker said.

He went on to call the sisters who live at Belmead “nothing short of heroic in their management, maintenance, congruencies with SBS’s mission, and the search for adaptive repurposing of Belmead.”

Options for the future

Tucker said he wished the decision to liquidate the property had been done more transparently and collaboratively with alumni groups, historical and environmental groups, FrancisEmma’s neighbors and the community of Powhatan.

“Even now we as a community stand ready to engage in the discussion of how best to save Belmead and adaptively return it to the service of the people of Powhatan, Virginia and the nation,” he said.

Right now many people involved are working hard to assess all of the options they may have, Shuklis said.

“There are a lot of different plans on the table, and I am quite frankly not comfortable talking about all of them just yet until we have had a chance to look at them more thoroughly. But yes, of course, raising funds to buy the property could possibly be an option,” she said.

Hopefully, organizers will soon begin making appeals almost immediately to people in Virginia, members of the alumni groups and to people elsewhere who see the extraordinary value of what has been accomplished there over the last 100 years and more particularly during the last 10 years, Gunn said.

There could be a way to put together a consortium of people who value the extraordinary history and legacy of the property, which went from holding a plantation with slaves to later housing two schools for black boys and girls and now has been building a reputation for its conservation efforts, she said.

FrancisEmma’s environmental preservation work is essential to preserve the endangered species and rare species found there for future generations, Shuklis said.

It is also critical to continue to tell the story about the schools and the education of black students that took place there, particularly in these often racially charged times, she said.

“We need to make sure people know this is a resurgence of racism. Unfortunately it is not new and here are some of the beautiful efforts that went into combating it 100 years ago and here is what we can still work on today,” Shuklis said.

Gunn said she doesn’t believe some of the members of the leadership team of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament have a full appreciation for the extraordinary contribution that their religious order’s efforts have made across the past 100 years and the fruits they continues to yield even to this day.

“It is a gift that they gave 100 years ago that keeps on giving, and I don’t think they have any conception of it. Nor do I think they have any conception of the untold hurt and damage that might be done as a result of their selling the property,” she said.

While people involved in FrancisEmma fully appreciates the enormous responsibilities that the leadership team have, particularly to the order’s older nuns, Gunn said she thinks the decision to sell the FrancisEmma property, when it is engaged in so many ministries, is a mistake.

“For people who rarely come for more than just a four hour board meeting to make a unilateral decision that we are not viable and that the ministries there aren’t viable, it actually flies in the face of logic and is extraordinary hurtful to all of the hundreds of people who have been involved in this whole sacred venture,” Gunn said.

She added she hopes the leadership team will “prayerfully reconsider all of the extraordinary good that they are doing.”

Shuklis and Carroll said they would also appreciate the community’s prayers and support as they move forward.

For more information, contact FrancisEmmaBelmead@gmail.com.

Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.

Included is the text from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

For more information, contact FrancisEmmaBelmead@gmail.com.If you would like to view the text from the Richmond Times-Dispatch visit:


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Bo voyage – Literally

Friends of Bartholomew.

Thanks immensely for your recent support with interest in our book, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant.

I do believe I have fulfilled all book orders received and will now be on my way to Munich, Germany for a two week stay with my son Richard and his friend Ola Zinkiewikz.

Richard and Ola

Richard and Ola

Rachel, Herchel, and Mary, I did not receive your contact information before departure but will expedite this when I return, APR09. Barbara, I did get your book in the mail, but did not receive orders for your sister and friend.

My wife and I look forward to this journey via Atlanta – Chicago – Istanbul – Munich and then a duplicate return.

Peace Be With You All!
Bill Stovall




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Grave Seekers

 Grave Seekers

Finding and Documenting History

In addition being the administrator of this web page, I am the Editor for the National Stovall Family Association newsletter.  I published this article, “Grave Seekers” in one of our recent issues.  It’s the tale that dates back two hundred years, when my distant grandfather and his family was settling the area around North Alabama.

The clan of Drury Stovall migrated west to Alabama sometimes around 1813.  Unfortunately, Grandpaw Drury only got a glimpse of his family prospering until he left his earthen vessel:  on May 12, 1826.  When I discovered that he was buried at Wise Cemetery, near Decatur, I set about the task of finding his burial place.

 Wise Cemetery Decatur, Alabama

Wise Cemetery
Decatur, Alabama

As written in the journal article, I did lay witness to Drury’s grave site. But what I DIDN’T write on was my follow-up quest: that being to assure that the State of Alabama recognizes this family cemetery as a historic place.  My first instinct was to contact a bureau at the State capitol and request the correct forms.

The people I worked with in Montgomery were extremely helpful, and within two weeks I held the dreaded package in my hands.

The story goes on and on, but I will summarize:

For those of you who are doing historical or genealogical research, or are in need of services such as my request, first seek help from the nearest County Archives Department.  These people are the subject experts, and their services are absolutely free.

In my case, I’m to spend approximately one hour with the Morgan County Archivist and then they will prepare the forms and file the request.

Hey, you never know until you ask!  –  Enjoy the article. . . I hope. . .

Stovall Family Association Seal

Stovall Family Association Seal

Grave Seekers

The Search For Drury Stovall Sr.

Members of the Stovall Nation are constantly searching for historical evidence of relatives dated back as far as possible. Hard core seekers pursue troves of old family Bibles and correspondence, courthouse records, libraries and the internet that might yield the secrets to their lineage.

We are a fortunate ancestry that can pinpoint the object of our exploration. Bartholomew Stovall was our Colonial roots founder, and we, as members of that descent, strive to obtain information as close to his generations as possible.

My bloodline travels through Bartholomew’s son, John, who left Virginia and headed west to settle land in North Carolina. One generation later his son, Drury Stovall, settled in North Alabama in the early 1800s.

Evidence indicates that other Stovall’s traveled with Drury and his growing family.  They were some of the initial founders of this lush farmland near the Tennessee River.  He and his wife Ann Stone Stovall raised a large family who helped develop this region and populated it with grandchildren that would help grow the city of Decatur into a commercial hub.

Drury Stovall Sr. was laid to rest on the twelfth of May, 1826. It was the same area where I was born and raised during the mid to latter point of the twentieth century. The “Stovall” surname has resonated throughout Morgan County for centuries. The lineage strain from Bartholomew remains strong in my section of the country, but today, our telephone’s white pages are running thin when you query our family name.

Reaching For My Past

Because of my kinship with this area, I felt a need to discover my ancestor’s place of burial. The location of their graves was predetermined from Stovall archives, and the position of their plots was pinpointed by satellite navigation systems from the World Wide Web.

In a compiliation by Donald E. Bishop, Descendents of Bartholomew Stovall (1665 – 1722) (First Five American Generations), Drury Stovall was buried in Wise Cemetery, Decatur, Morgan County, Alabama.  

The following is a brief story for the search and discovery of my distant grandfather’s grave site.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“Hello Brother.  I need your help.” 

Being somewhat internet savvy, I did a Google search of “Wise Cemetery, Decatur, Morgan County, Alabama”  and was rewarded with the following result set:

“Cemetery Notes and Description: From the intersection of Hwy 67 and Hwy 31 (Beltline Rd,), go west on Beltline Rd. on Central Pkwy.  Turn left and go 1.6 miles to 3704 Central Pkwy.  the cemetery is behind a residence and is very grown and snaky.”

As fate would have it, my brother, Stephen Stovall owns and works in an office building not three miles from 3704 Central Pkwy.  Steve is about as inquisitive as me, so I gave him a call.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: Well I just read that one of the founders of the area around Decatur, and our ancient grand paw is buried there. It’s located right down from your office at 3704 Central Parkway.

Steve: No Kidding! I know I can find that.

Me: Great! It says here that it “may be grown up and kind of snaky”. Just check it out and I’ll come over for an invasion when you validate it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The next day I received an email from Steve: “I found the address and it is in a scary looking place.  I did not turn into the driveway because I was alone in my car.  The name on the mail box was Willie Garth and he has a phone listed at a different location.  I talked to a lady named Nellie Garth Jones and she now lives in the house and said Willie was dead.  She knows nothing of a cemetery behind the house but said we were welcome to look for ourselves.  I told her we would call before we came.”

I immediately replied: “I love an adventure. I’ll be in touch as soon as I get things figured out on my end.”

Early Morgan County Settlers

The land currently known as Morgan County, Alabama was claimed by both Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes of Native Americans prior to 1810. White settlers were quick to adopt this fertile basin and by 1818 a territorial census numbered 2,513 souls. This was considered a rather large concentration of people with farms, mills, taverns, and small businesses already in operation.

Shortly before 1818 the newly formed United States of America issued offerings of 640 acre sections for $1.00 per acre. Disgruntled settlers deemed the price too high and bartered with the government for cheaper, more flexible financing. All the while, families began to dot the area as “squatters”.

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Cherokee tribes accepted a treaty with the United States. By 1816 the Chickasaw nation followed suit.

Before the first public land sale in Morgan County, the laws for disbursement made it possible for individuals to purchase smaller tracts. It’s historically written that on the first Monday in March, 1818 the first public land sale took place. After reviewing land and deed records I am convinced that this date was the first Monday in July, 1818. I found no sale of land prior to July, but numerous transactions are listed on July 18, 1818. Among them was a transaction to Peter Stovall, son of Drury Stovall for 60 acres in section 9, the land which is near the present day City of Decatur.

Alabama's Tennessee Valley From Mentone, Alabama

Alabama’s Tennessee Valley
From Mentone, Alabama

The roads between Atlanta and Decatur, Alabama could be 210 miles of interstate, but my wife and I chose to take the back roads, through the mountains.

Atlanta rests on the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains and Decatur is just west in the fertile Tennessee valley. The rise is only about 500 feet in elevation, but the summit displays the quaint, tourist town of Mentone, Alabama.

Leaving Mentone you quickly drop 1,200 feet into the Tennessee Valley with its lush farmland that is flat as the coastal plains. We crossed over the mighty Tennessee River twice before we reached Decatur, the area that Drury helped settle 200 years ago.

Wednesday September 22, 2015 – Wise Cemetery

Initially my Brother and I had planned to find the graveyard and uncover the whereabouts of Drury Stovall. Luckily, the search party swelled to seven people including a very inquisitive ten year old nephew.

 Wise Cemetery View From The Road

Wise Cemetery
View From The Road

We pulled into the driveway of Nellie Garth Jones and were greeted by a lady who advised us that the place of burial we were looking for was not located behind her home. She pointed to her right and said, “It’s in the back of that vacant lot, right next to that building.” This is when I knew I had found the destination of our search.   The area was identical to the shots I had seen on the internet weeks before.

We crossed the field and immediately saw grave markers and two burial sites that had four concrete slabs, upright approximately four feet high. My initial thought was that they were crypts, but as we looked closer, found that the underneath was secured with a thick concrete slab.

 Markers Everywhere Most Broken into Pieces

Markers Everywhere Most Broken into Pieces

The entire scene was in disarray with markers scattered around broken to pieces. Most all headstones had markings but time had worn the hand carved letterings so that none were legible, less a few.

I was excited that some of the etchings could be deciphered, but was delighted when I located the clearly marked headstone of Peter Stovall, obviously the burial place of Drury’s son who obtained a rank of Major in the war of 1812.

We looked inside one of the “caved in” crypts and were astonished to find one large stone with a faint markings of “STOVALL”. My adrenalin must have been flowing, because I lifted the 80 lb. slab out of the crypt and placed it flat on the ground to get a better visual. With a little cleaning around the lettering it became obvious that we needed to remove some of the residue before the etchings could be read.

Drury - No Doubt

Drury – No Doubt


Then someone said, “Bill, you should take a look at this.” Laying facedown outside the crypt, another piece of the headstone clearly showed the letters “DRURY” in excellent shape. We placed it next to the larger marking, forming a perfect fit with the name spelled out, “Drury Stovall”. There were viable dates, but one was fairly clear. 1826 shown through clearly, marking the date of Drury’s recorded year of departure from life on earth.

By the time we left for the day most of the headstone was assembled and placed on  plywood atop Drury’s crypt. Only one vital piece is left hidden in the brush. It’s a single triangular section that contained part of the headstone inscription. I’m sure it’s there and I will find it on a future trip.

It was a totally successful and very fun outing. For now I’m satisfied that the area has been located, but continuing forward I want to get back and clean the area up and make an attempt to have the graveyard recognized as a historical site by the State of Alabama.   Stay tuned for updates.

Finished Less one Piece

Finished Less one Piece


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