Photo: Buffalo National River in Arkansas -- Photograph by Joy Brown's brother, Wayne Neal

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Introduction to Joy and Ken's Family Story
Written by Ken Brown (updated in December 2015)

Joy and I met in the William Allen White Library at Emporia State University in December 1963. It was finals week at ESU, and both of us had gone there to study. I came into the study room, looked around and then sat down by the prettiest girl I could find—Joy.  I struck up a conversation and, by the spring semester, we were dating--off and on.  

We were engaged to be married in the fall of 1964 and were married on June 5, 1965, at the Argentine Church of Christ in Kansas City, Kansas. Afterward, we lived in Wichita where Joy worked in the offices of Derby Refining Co. and I finished my bachelor’s degree at Wichita State University.

On May 24, 1966, our first son, Kelly Wayne Brown, was born in St. Francis Hospital in Wichita.  In August 1966, I finished my bachelors degree and began working full-time for Elmer Fox and Co., Certified Public Accountants, in downtown Wichita.  Joy returned to her studies at Wichita State. 

On January 1, 1968, we moved to Springfield, MO, where we have resided ever since.  At that time, I had taken a position with the old CPA firm of Wilson, Ellison and Lipscomb in Springfield.  Joy and I rented a two-bedroom house at 1834 S. Franklin. Joy continued her studies at Southwest Missouri State University (Now Missouri State University), graduating in 1972. 

In 1969, Joy and I bought our first house at 524 East Cherokee.  We lived there until 1975 at which time we bought and moved to a house at 1164 So. National which was the old parsonage of the South National Church of Christ (Now East Sunshine).  Kelly grew up in that house and attended Greenwood Laboratory School, Jarrett Junior High, and Parkview High School.

While in the So. National house, we were blessed with the coming of our second son, Dennis Patrick Brown, on July 13, 1978.  We lived there until 1986 at which time we bought a house close to the Battlefield Mall at 1328 E. Compton. Dennis lived in this house during his teenage years.

In 1998, we moved to our present home at 4108 East Eastmoor St. in southeast Springfield. Both our boys live in Springfield.  Kelly and his wife, Susan Vydra, have two sons: James Robert (born September 26, 1996)), and Louis Patrick (born March 6, 1998).  Dennis has two daughters: Ora Anouk Brown (born March 24, 2004) and Skye Kiree Brown (born February 25, 2009). "Anouk" is the name of the little girl in the movie "Chocolat", and "Kiree" is the middle name of my mother.

I retired in December 2000 after a 30-year career with Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University in Springfield).  Joy retired (December 2007) after over 26 years with the same institution.

Ken's Brown--Hartley Roots
Written by Ken Brown (updated in December 2015)

Even though I was born and spent my childhood in southwest Missouri (the City of Ava in Douglas County) and Joy in southeast Missouri (the village of Pascola in Pemiscot County), we both moved to different parts of Kansas when we were teenagers. When a Junior in High School, Joy moved to Kansas City, Kansas, to live with her brother, Wesley, while I moved to Wichita when in the eighth grade. I graduated from Wichita South High School in 1962, attended Wichita's Friends University in 1962-63, and transferred to Emporia State University for the 1963-64 year. Joy graduated from Kansas City's Argentine High School in 1963 and entered Emporia State at the same time as me. I graduated from Wichita State University in 1966.

Ken's Parents (Jake and Kiree Brown)

My parents, James Orville "Jake" Brown (b. 1910-d. 1949), and Mildred Kiree Hartley (b. 1911-d.1999), met in Ava around 1930, a time when Kiree (locally pronounced as 'Cree') was attending Ava High School, and Jake was working as a carpenter in Ava and helping on his folks' farm south of Ava. Kiree lived in a rooming house with Jake's sister, Lulu, and Jake asked Lulu to introduce him to the girl with the long black curly hair.

While the locals always called him "Jake" Kiree preferred to call him "Orville." Orville and Kiree were married on Valentine's Day, 1932, at the Dogwood Church in northwestern Douglas County. Over the next several years, they lived on the Brown place south of Ava or in the Valley, Nebraska, area where Orville worked for a Nebraska farmer.

Orville and Kiree were blessed with five children as follows:

  • Evelyn Marie (b. 29 Dec 1932 in Douglas County, Missouri) (Now living near Monett, MO)
  • Janalea (b. 12 Feb 1934 in Douglas County, Missouri) (d. 24 Sep 1981 in Kansas City, Missouri).
  • Iris Ann (b. 26 Mar 1939 in Omaha, Nebraska) (Now living in Springfield, MO).
  • James Wendell (b. 2 Dec 1942 in Douglas County, Missouri) (d.20 Sep 1966 in Wichita, Kansas)
  • Kenneth Wayne (b. 9 Feb 1945 in Douglas County, Missouri) (Now living in Springfield, MO).

In the 1940s, Orville contracted tuberculosis, and his failing health caused him to turn from farming to retailing.  He founded and operated the Brown Furniture Co. in Ava during the late 1940s until his health forced him to sell it also.  The store was located in an old frame building northwest of the Ava Square on the site of the present Ava Drug Co.   He died on 12 Mar 1949, in the Tuberculosis Sanatorium at Mt. Vernon, MO.

After Orville's death, Kiree attended the local teachers college (now Missouri State University) long enough to qualify for a Missouri teacher's certificate.  From 1950 until 1957, she taught in one-room schools around Douglas County, MIssouri (specifically Mt. Tabor, Dogwood, Flat Rock, Hunter, and Frye schools).

In 1957, Kiree moved to Wichita, Kansas, with her teenage sons James and Kenneth, and began teaching elementary grades in the Sedgwick County and Wichita school systems there.   She returned to Ava in 1969 and taught in the Ava Public Schools before her retirement in 1975. Kiree moved to Springfield in 1978 and lived at 320 East Glenwood until 1996 at which time she entered the Manor Care Health Center where she resided until her death on November 8, 1999. She was buried by her husband's side in the Ava Cemetery on November 12, 1999.

My mother, Kiree Hartley Brown, was a genealogist, and through her work and that of others, I is able to trace the Brown line back to the early 1830s settlement days of Douglas County, MO. and the Hartley ancestors back to the 1840s in neighboring Wright/Webster counties and even earlier to Tennessee.

Ken's Paternal Ancestors (Brown and Morris)

My great-great Grandfather, Lyhue Brown (b. ca 1820 in Kentucky) (d. ca 1848 in Douglas County, Missouri), married Elizabeth "Betsy" Hall, ca 1836 and immediately moved to Bryant Creek in Douglas County, MO, just a short time after the territorial Indians were vacated from the area.  (A manuscript that I've written on "Betsy" is available on the Historical Writings Page).

Before Lyhue's death in ca 1846-49, he and Elizabeth had four children:

  • George W. (b. ca 1837 in Douglas portion of old Taney County, MO), (d. 19 Mar 1882 in Douglas County, MO)
  • Sarah Ann (b. ca 1840 in Douglas portion of old Taney County, MO) (d. unknown).
  • Jesse G.--Ken's great-grandfather (b. 1842 in Douglas portion of old Taney County, MO) (d. 12 May 1900 in Douglas County, MO).
  • Isaac (b. 8 Oct 1846 in Douglas portion of old Ozark County, MO), (d. 18 Mar 1909 near Cleveland, OK).

After Lyhue's death, Elizabeth married Hiram Stout around 1850, but he died in the mid 1850s after they are believed to have had a son, James (b. 1854). After Hiram's death, Elizabeth moved to north of present-day Ava in Douglas County close to her Hall family. Later she moved to south of Ava in the Spring Creek area where her sons had their own places. There, south of Ava, Elizabeth married a third time to John Walker.

My Great-Grandfather, Jesse G. Brown, owned a farm just east of where Spring Creek crosses Mo. Highway 5 in Douglas County about five miles south of Ava. In ca 1862, Jesse G. married Mary Ann Burton. In her family history book entitled Squire-Brown-Burton, Laura Lee Moncrief said the following: "After Jesse and Mary Ann were married, they settled on his farm in Spring Creek Township in Douglas County, MO, next to his mother and brother George. According to his granddaughter, Rosa Davis, this original 30-40 acre farm of Jesse's was in Section 1 of Spring Creek Township and was known as the Old Huffman Place. Grandson Sherman Brown said that Jesse got this farm by trading a gun and a hunting dog to a coon hunter. This farm was where Jesse Brown lived with his first wife, Mary Ann, and all their children were born."

"When the Civil War broke out, it was impossible to stay neutral living in the border area of Douglas County, MO. Jesse enrolled in the Mo. Home Guards, Sep. 21, 1864. He was in Company M of the 73rd Enrolled Mo. Militia Infantry [Union forces]. While he served in the militia, Jesse was in the Battle of Fox Creek in Eastern Douglas County. He was captured and held prisoner at Fox Creek. On Mar. 11, 1865, he was discharged from the service at Forsyth, MO. The children of Jesse and Mary were as follows:

  • Louise E. (b. ca 1863 in Douglas County) (d. ca 1914, Okla).
  • George Henry (b. 4 Jul 1866 in Douglas County) (d. 6 Apr. 1884 in Douglas County).
  • Martha Frances (b. 17 Jun 1868 in Douglas County) (d. 17 Jan 1936 in Los Angeles CA).
  • Isaac Sherman (b. 17 Dec. 1870 in Douglas County) (d. 22 Feb 1961).
  • James Lihu--Ken's Grandfather (b. 4 Feb 1873 in Douglas County) (d. 17 Nov. 1935 in Douglas County)
  • William S. (b. 5 Oct 1876 in Douglas County) (d. 9 Oct 1881 in Douglas County)

According to Laura Lee Moncrief, Mary Ann died of some sort of lung trouble which she developed when she went to Fox Creek to get Jesse back while he was held prisoner there during the Civil War.

My Grandfather, James Lihu Brown, married Amanda Melvina Morris on 1 Dec 1891 in Ozark County. Amanda Melvina was a daughter of John W. Morris and Caroline Honeycutt.) James and Melvina operated a farm a short distance to the northeast from his father's old Spring Creek farm. There they raised a family of 12 children as follows:

  • Sherman William (b. 15 Feb 1893) (d. 1 Nov 1980 in Springfield, MO)
  • Rosa Mae (Davis) (b. 1 Oct 1895) (d. 22 Mar 1995 in Ava, MO)
  • Bertha Frances (Davis) (b. 8 Feb 1897) (d. 15 Jun 1990 in Ava, MO)
  • John Jesse (b. 15 May 1898) (d. 16 Nov 1966 in Phoenix AZ)
  • Bessie Vivian (Snook) (b. 28 Jul 1901) (d. 1986 in Little Rock AR)
  • Everett Thomas (b. 15 Jul 1903) (d. 17 Dec 1989 in Tulsa OK)
  • Vernia Allen (b. 14 Aug 1905) (d. 2 Nov 1918 in Douglas County, MO)
  • Louis Virgil (b. 13 May 1909) (d. 4 Jun 1987 in Bartlesville OK)
  • James Orville--Ken's Father (b. 4 Aug 1910) (d. 12 Mar 1949 in Mt. Vernon, MO)
  • Lulu Minerva (Shrum) (b. 12 Feb 1912) (d. Jun 8 2006 in Lowry City, MO)
  • Charles Woodrow (b. 19 Apr 1916) (d. 14 Aug 1987)
  • Leroy R. (b. 16 Oct 1919) (d. 24 Feb 1981)

Ken's Maternal Ancestors (Hartley and Gunnels)

The Hartley line has been traced back to Laban Hartley, b. ca 1750s in Maryland -- d. 1843 in Williamson County, Tennessee. Laban has many descendants, including Ken, in Douglas County, MO. The father of both Laban and Benjamin is believed to be Richard Hartley, born in 1730 in Worchester County, MD., and died 1781 in Rowan County, N.C. (The Hartley line is well documented on Johns Genealogy Page maintained by John L. Dodd of Tennessee -- it's a must-see for Hartley family members).

A son of Laban Hartley was Dennis Hartley (b. 1789-d. 1852). Dennis was Ken's gr-gr-gr grandfather. Dennis's first son, Andrew Joseph Hartley, was born 23 Nov 1812 in the Carolinas and died 20 Jan 1884 in Douglas County, MO. Andrew Joseph Hartley is Ken's great-great grandfather. He moved from Tennessee to Pulaski County, MO before 1840.

Andrew's first child was William Hartley (b. 10 Mar 1840 in Wright County, MO) (d. 14 Apr 1921 in Douglas County MO). William is Ken's great-grandfather. According to his 1921 obituary, William was a veteran of the Civil War and served under General Sherman. He was in the famous "March to the Sea" and the Battle of Pea Ridge (Arkansas). William enrolled in the Union Army Co. H. 24th Regiment, Missouri infantry in the field on November 20, 1861 and discharged on November 28, 1864. He was 5' 5" tall. He was discharged with honor at St. Louis.

After his first wife (Margaret Syntha Reynolds) died ca 1870, William married Sarah Lakey on December 22, 1872, at Arno in western Douglas County, MO.  To this union, 15 children were born as follows:

  • Francis Marion (b. 1873- d. 1958)
  • William A. (b. 1876-d. 1922)(Infant) (b. 1876-d. 1876)
  • Rubin A. (b. 1877-d. 1890)(Infant) (b. 1878-d. 1878)
  • Simon L. (b. 1879-d. 1900) (Infant) (b. 1880-d. 1880)
  • (Infant) (b. 1882-d. 1882)
  • Ada C. (b. 1883-d. 1904)
  • Albert Lee (b. 1885-d. 1961 in Ava)
  • Vina Lu (b. 1886-d. 1910)
  • John M. (b. 1887-d. unknown--disappeared in 1913)
  • David Ira--Ken's grandfather (b. 22 Aug 1889 in Douglas County, d. 2 Oct 1929 in Douglas County)
  • Sarah Viola (Adams) (b. 1891-d. 1985 in Phoenix AZ
  • Joel Edward (b. 1893-d. 1979 in Douglas County)

Ken's grandfather, David Ira Hartley, married Tessie Armintia Gunnels on November 1910. She was the daughter of William Gunnels and Sarah Johnston. In local Ozark dialect, his name was pronounced as 'Are-ie' and she was called 'Mintie'.

While living at Arno initially, they moved to a rental place further north on the side of Pilot Knob mountain north west of Ava. Eventually, they purchased a place northwest of Arno near Arden in "Williams Holler."

Ira and Minta's children were as follows:

  • Mildred Kiree (Brown)--Ken's mother (b. 13 Sep, 1911 - d. 8 Nov. 1999)
  • William Lawrence (b. 10 Mar 1915) (d. 17 Mar 1982 in Sedgwick County, KS).
  • Eldon Leon (b. 19 Jan 1920) (d. 26 Mar 2000 in Wichita, KS).
  • Docia Levon (Luttrell) (Elenbarger) (b. 19 Aug 1926) (Now living in northeast Oklahoma).

After Ira died in 1929, Minta continued to operate the farm on "Williams Holler." She married Charlie Breedlove in 1931. Charlie died in 1935 but Minta retained his surname. While all the grandkids called her "Grandma Hartley" she was known to most Douglas Countians as 'Mis' Breedlove, the legal name that she retained.

Grandma Hartley operated the Williams Holler farm until the mid 1950s with the help of her faithful hired hand, Grant Hampton. To many of her grandchildren, Grant was just as much a part of the family as she. He, however, didn't ever discipline us like Grandma did. I remember the day he saved me (as an 8-year old kid) from a cow who chased after me for messing with her calf too much! He was a kind old fellow who we all enjoyed very much. He rolled his own cigarettes and had a face and hands that were like tough old leather.

In the mid 1950s, Minta auctioned off the farm and all of its contents except for a small house that she gave to Grant. She moved to Ava and lived in a house on the main north-south street across from the Ava High School until she had to enter a nursing home in the 1970s.

Grandma Hartley's Family (The Gunnels Family)

Grandma Hartley was born Tessie Armintia Gunnels on 27 Jan, 1890, in Douglas County, MO. She died 14 May, 1981, at a Maranatha Nursing Home in Springfield, MO. Her parents were William Nicholas Gunnels (b. 20 Nov. 1863 in Macon County, MO) (d. 6 Aug 1941 in Douglas County, MO), and Sarah Johnston (b. 18 Apr 1866 in Camden County, MO) (d. 21 Aug 1943 in Douglas County, MO).

This Gunnels family line is believed to be that of Joseph Daniel Gunnels (b. 1760) (d. 1829 in Jackson County, Tennessee.  He had three sons: William (b. 1785 - d. 1848); Nicholas Gunnels (b. 12 Mar 1793 in Georgia) (d. 17 Oct 1862 in Macon County, MO); and James Gunnels (b. abt 1796 in Georgia). 

Nicholas was Ken's great-great-great grandfather.  Nicholas married Catherine Dillon in 1817 in Tennessee.  Their children were:

  • Henry Curtis Gunnels--Ken's great-great grandfather (b. Aug 1828 in Tennessee) (d. 3 Sep 1905 in Carroll County, AR).
  • Eva Gunnels
  • William Gunnels

Ken's great-great grandfather, Henry Curtis Gunnels, married Elizabeth Jane Huckeby in 1855. Their children were as follows:

  • Marildia Catherine (Garrett)--(Ken's Mom called her 'Aunt Cattie') (b. 1859 in Macon County, MO) (d. 1932 in Douglas County).
  • Tennessee Jane (Hamblin)--(Ken's Mom called her 'Aunt Ten') (b. 1861 in Macon County, MO) (d. unknown date in Oklahoma).
  • William Nicholas--Ken's Great-Grandfather (b. 20 Nov 1863 in Macon County, MO) (d. 6 Aug 1941 in Douglas County, MO).
  • James Jackson (b. 1865 in Macon County, MO) (d. 1957 in Cassville, MO).
  • Nancy Elizabeth (b. 1867 and d. 1867 in northwest Arkansas)

William Nicholas Gunnels, was known to many as 'Nick.'  He married Sarah Jane Johnston on 15 Sep 1885.  She was the daughter of Boon Johnston and Ida Johnson.  They had a farm at Goodhope, Missouri in Douglas County.  There they raised six children as follows:

  • Myrtie Mae (Sanders) (b. 1886 in Camden County, MO) (d. 1933 in Douglas County, MO)
  • John E. (b. 1888 in Missouri) (d. 1918 in Douglas County, MO during the flu epidemic).
  • Tessie Armintia (Hartley)--Ken's grandmother (b. 27 Jan 1890 in Douglas County, MO) (d 14 May 1981 in Springfield, MO).
  • Avery Curtis (b. 1892 near Goodhope MO) (d. 1947)
  • Charles Boon (b. 1898 at Goodhope MO) (d. 1959 in Springfield MO).
  • Laura Annie (Davis) (b. 24 Apr 1903 in Douglas County, MO) (d. 24 Oct 2002 in Ava, MO).
Joy's Neal-Evans Family Roots
Written by Ken Brown (updated in December 2015)


Joy Neal was born and spent her childhood in southeast Missouri (specifically in or near the village of Pascola in Pemiscot County), and she moved to Kansas City, Kansas to live with her brother, Wesley, after her mother died in 1961. Joy graduated from Kansas City's Argentine High School in 1963 and entered Emporia State at the same time as me. 

Joy's Parents

Joy’s parents, Nenon Wesley Neal (b. 1878-d. 1958) and Annie Lois Evans (b.1901 d. 1962), met at Crossroads, AR., a small community located a few miles northwest of Hope, AR.  Nenon, a 40-year old bachelor at the time, married the 18-year old Annie in 1918. They stayed in the area for several years where three of Joy's sisters (Ina, Lois, and Margaret) and one brother (Wesley) were born.

Because of Annie’s illnesses, Nenon moved the family first to northeast Arkansas and then to southeast Missouri in the 1930s where Nenon finally developed a farm from drained swamp between Wardell and Pascola in Pemiscot County, Missouri. Nenon, known to everyone as "Pat" cleared the land of its native timber to develop a cotton farm. He worked the farm until around 1950, at which time he sold it, and moved the family to Pascola.

Joy's parents were initially buried in a cemetery at Wardell, MO but their remains were moved back to their ancestral area, southeast Arkansas, just a few years ago.  They are buried in a cemetery at Hope AR near Annie's mother's grave.

Joy's Paternal Ancestors (Neal and Adams)

Joy has been able to trace back the roots of her parents to the 1800s. The families of her parents settled in southwest Arkansas before the Civil War. Her great-grandfather, Thomas Neal, was born in 1815 in South Carolina. He moved to Alabama where Joy's grandfather, Samuel James Neal, was born, then later to Mississippi before arriving in southwest Arkansas in the late 1840s. Thomas died before 1870.

Joy's Grandfather, Samuel Neal, was born in 1841 and died in 1908, nearly 40 years before Joy was born. He married Margaret Jamina Adams in 1869. They had nine children of which Joy's father, Nenon, was the fourth. Both Samuel and Jamina are buried in the cemetery at Bluff City, AR, only a short distance from the Neal homestead. Several of the Adams family still live in Chidester area not far from Bluff City.

Joy's Maternal Ancestors (Evans and Blake)

Joy's Great Grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Evans, apparently moved to Arkansas from Tennessee around the time of the Civil War. Her Grandfather, James Benjamin L. Evans, (b. 1866-d. 1926) reared his family in southwest Arkansas.  In 1892, he married Martha Georgia Blake.  The marriage took place in Columbia County, AR.  Benjamin is buried in Westmoreland Cemetery near Crossroads AR, and Martha is buried in Hope AR. The children of James Benjamin and Martha were all born in southwest Arkansas.  Joy's mother, Annie Lois Evans, was born on November 4, 1901, in Stamps, AR.  She had 11 brothers and sisters.



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