The King Migration and The Great Flood.

The King Migration Westward

This is the story of Meshack King and his descendants.
He began the Great King Migration West, which continues today.


The King Family was in America before the United States existed. Our ancestors were in the English Colony of Maryland when the Revolutionary War was fought. With every war, there is a baby boom right afterwards. The Revolutionary War was no exception and the Kings war babies were two boys named Meshack and Shadrach.

Meshack was born in 1780 and his brother Shadrach was born in 1781. By the turn of the century, they were both married and living in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Meshack had married a girl named Mary but they had not yet had any children. Shadrach married Elizabeth Wells, daughter of Richard Wells. They had a baby boy by this time.

The only other King that was living in Washington County at that time was a Thomas King. All that we know about him is that he and his wife are over 45 years old and they have three children, all under the age of five. Could this be the boys parents with children or grandchildren living at home? After all, both Meshack and Shadrach had sons named Thomas. Only time and more research will tell.

The brothers then journeyed further West into Ohio County, Virginia (now West Virginia). That is where Meshack and Mary had their first son, John in 1801. In 1802, they had their second son and named him Meshack Jr. In 1803 they had their first girl. But it was in 1804 that our ancestor Thomas was born. Meshack and Mary were blessed with five more children while they lived in Virginia. There was David in 1806, Rachel in 1808, Jacob in 1810, Nancy in 1812 and William in 1813.

Shadrach and Elizabeth had two girls and a boy by the time of the 1810 census. There was one other King living in that county at that time and his name was Solomon. Could this be another Biblical brother perhaps?

The brothers then moved even further West. It is believed that they moved to Sarahville, Monroe County in 1815. It is there that Meshack and Mary's four youngest children were born. First Elijah in 1815 and Silas in 1816. They had a baby in 1820 but it died the next year. Then in 1822 their youngest child Elizabeth was born.

Meshack and Shadrach appear together in the 1820 Monroe County, Ohio census. Next door to Shadrach is Richard Wells. I believe that Richard is not only the father of Shadrach's wife Elizabeth but also Meshack's wife Mary. I have been told they were sisters but have found some information that suggests the contrary. Meshack is listed in the "History of Noble County, Ohio" as being a land owner in 1833 but he does not appear in the 1840 census so I believe that Meshack died between 1833 & 1840. Shadrach and his wife Elizabeth appear in the 1850 census still living in Union Township, Monroe County, Ohio. Meshack's widow Mary is on the same page living with her daughter Elizabeth Needs Meshacks sons John and Thomas appear with him in the Monroe County tax record of 1826. Actually, we descend from both John and Thomas King.


In 1826 John married Rebecca "Ruba" Perkins who was 22 and a native to Ohio. Their sixth child was Hannah Jane King who was born in 1841. Just after the Civil War she married Sgt. Reuben T. Thornton. Reuben and Hannah are the paternal grandparents of Lillian Victoria Thornton or Grandma King to most of us.


Now, Meshack's son Thomas was married four times. First to Jane (our ancestor) in 1825, second to Charity in 1833 and third to Susannah Coons in 1861. His fourth marriage was late in life and not much is known about it.
Thomas and Charity had seven children. They lived in Monroe County when the county lines changed around them. It was then Olive Township in Noble County. Thomas and Charity are buried in the East Union Cemetery on the hill overlooking the town of East Union, Ohio.

But I regress. Thomas King was ambitious. By 1826, he was worth more than his father or older brother. In 1825, at the age of 21 he married a girl who was less than 16 years old. The same year, they had a baby girl they named Jane. Three years later they had a son they named George (our ancestor). Everything seems fine up through 1830, but then the story takes a mysterious twist.

The story the way the local townsfolk tell it, is that Thomas' wife Jane was black. They also say that she disappeared without a trace and no one ever heard from her again. The womenfolk from the village came to visit and find that all of her possessions are still there. She left behind things that she said she would never have been without. Also, they owned a couple of the finest riding horses in the valley and both were still there. Thomas said she took the mule but she never use to ride it. And there was one last very unusual thing, while the women were there, Thomas was busy filling in their well. In those days, wells were dug by hand and even if a well went dry you didn't fill it in and waste all that hard work. You would dig it deeper or you would cap it off with timbers. So the town's folk figured her body was at the bottom of that well but no one was willing to go to all the trouble of digging that entire well out again. So, the mystery continues. However, a coal company is now strip mining the old King property - the well and all. Now the truth may finally come out.


So back to the migration. Thomas and Janes son George King married Martha E. Pringle in Monroe County. Martha was the daughter of Isaac and Hester Pringle. She was five years younger than George. She had been born in Ohio but her parents were from West Virginia. The Pringles were the first family in that part of West Virginia. Read more about them in

The Royal Deserters


Their son Gideon Sherman King was another war baby. He was born in 1865 at the close of the Civil War in Summerfield, Noble Co., Ohio. Gideon for his mother's favorite brother and Sherman for General Sherman, the hero of the Civil War.
Gideon had once admitted to a friend that he was a rabble-rouser when he was young. He and his buddies would try their best to disrupt church gatherings by riding their horses around and even through church services. He said his life changed the day he snuck in the back pew of a church with the intent of causing a disruption. Instead he was struck by the word of the Lord. He began studing the good book and doing a bit of preaching of his own. At the age of 28, he finally settled down. He married Olive Belle Smallwood on 9 Sept. 1893 in Noble County, Ohio. Her parents were John Henry Smallwood and Maria E. Harbin. Gideon and Olive had seven children. They were Raymond, Howard, Mary, Cloris, Martha and Earl. They moved to the village of Buffalo in Guernsey County, Ohio. Many church services were held in their front room. They lived there the rest of their lives.


Their son William Howard King was born on the 24th of November in 1895 in Noble Co., Ohio. Howard ( Pa King ) was responsible for the next move west.
It took a great natural disaster and the love of a woman to prompt Howard King's move from Ohio to Iowa. It was said he was following a girl named Vickie. Lillian Victoria Thornton was the daughter of Francis Marion "Frank" and Rachel Florence Thornton. Vicky had moved to Iowa with her parents in 1913. That was the year of the disaster. The town of East Union had been home to the Kings, the Thorntons and the Shipleys. It was a thriving town, deep in a valley at the junction of two rivers. That is until 1913 when nature removed it from the face of the earth. Only a couple of the houses survived. It is hard for us to imagine what it was like for our ancestors on that fateful week in 1913. Here are quotes from the newspapers at the time.

"A calamity which for the time being could only be measured in death and destruction by the horrors and devastation of war overtook a goodly portion of the states of Ohio and Indiana on Tuesday, March 25, 1913. Floods swept practically all the river towns of the two states. All through the night that followed, panic-stricken refugees were reported to be fleeing from the lowlands to places of greater comparative safety. The property loss was first estimated to be more than $100,000,000."

"The Middle West is today in the grasp of the worst floods ever experienced, The State of Ohio is practically a vast inland lake. A levee restraining the Miami River at Dayton broke during Tuesday morning and soon the city was flooded to a depth of from seven to twelve feet. Many buildings had collapsed when the final link of communication with the outside world--one telephone wire--was lost. A reservoir near Lewiston was reported to have broken and sent further flood upon the stricken city. Another report was to the effect that 5,000 persons had lost their lives and that the city had been engulfed by water to a depth of forty feet."

"The dead bodies of people could be seen being washed about in the streets and on the outskirts of Dayton. From Hamilton, Ohio, comes a report that the flood had taken a toll of 1,000 lives. From every city and town in Ohio with which communication is still possible a tale of death and disaster is reported."

"Death and damage dealing flood conditions also prevailed in Ohio cities, towns and villages, which reported loss of life or great damage to property. Many of the buildings on the sides of the river had been rendered so insecure by the rising waters that they left their foundations. Many small houses were torn from their foundations and heaps of ruins and shattered lumber were left to tell the tale of the flood's fury."
"During the forty-eight hours ending at 1 o'clock Tuesday morning, March 25, 1913, no less than five and one-half inches of rain, the heaviest on record, fell over a large part of Ohio and Indiana. The waters of the Powerhouse reservoir burst forth on top of the flooded Miami--and a great wave came suddenly tearing along picking up frame houses like chips in its path and crushing brick factories and large buildings as it swept on in a resistless torrent."

"A great mountain of water has been hurled from the clouds upon Ohio," said a graphic writer in the Cleveland Leader on March 27. "Six inches of rain throughout Ohio means 575,000,000,000 cubic feet of water. Put this enormous mass of water in another form and it would fill a gigantic standpipe a mile in diameter and about five miles high."

"A night of suffering and of terror followed the inrushing of the waters throughout the flooded territory There was intense suffering by women and children and the deepest dismay prevailed on every hand. All prayed for the coming of the dawn and the receding of the waters that hemmed them in on every hand. But when morning came at last, there was little to encourage the weary, hungry, saddened sufferers of the night. The land was a watery waste and prospects of relief seemed slim indeed So the long day passed and darkness once more approached with every prospect of a repetition of the terrors of the night before."

The Governor of Ohio released a statement as follows:
"The exact extent of the appalling flood in Ohio is still unknown. Every hour impresses us with the uncertainty of the situation. The waters have assumed such unknown heights in many parts of the State that it will be hardly less than a miracle if villages and towns are not wiped out of existence in the southern parts of Ohio. The storm is moving south of east. My judgment is that there has never been such a tragedy in the history of the republic."

"In the highlands of Dayton people were drowned in apparent elevations where it would seem naturally impossible. The water at Fifth and Brown streets, which is twenty-five or thirty-five feet above the elevations in the business section, reached ten feet in depth."

"On the third day, missing members of families were restored to their loved ones through human clearing houses established at several points on the fringe of the flood district. Great ledgers, filled with names, and presided over by volunteer bank clerks, were at the disposal of persons seeking missing kinsmen."

One thing is for certain, the Great Flood was a very strong motivation for continuing the Great Migration Westward.
The Thornton family had moved to Irvington, Iowa. That is where Ray and Howard King came to visit them in 1916 and never left. Howard married Vicky Thornton and his brother Raymond married Vicky's sister Stella.
Howard took a job on the railroad and in the 1920's moved his family to Emmetsburg. He and Vickie had a dozen children and lived the rest of their lives in Emmetsburg. Of the 12 children that they had, six of them continued the migration out West.


Irene, Kenny, Edda, Howard, Kattie and Jim have moved their families out to the Old West of Arizona. This last migration was not done with covered wagons - it was done with station wagons.



The Great Flood of 1913


Queer and Interesting Sights Were Seen Throughout the City -- High Price Paid for Rides. Market Sreet, south of Fourteenth street, is pond of muddy water, and many amusing as well as serious scenes were enacted throughout yesterday and last night. Boats of almost every description were being operated on the street and in the store rooms and other places of business, those who were riding past were able to see distinctly and clearly that much damage was being done. The district lying between Fifteenth street and the creek bridge especially was severely handicapped as a result of the water, and but for the fact that the water reached far above the floors of all business houses in that section, Market street might have been likened unto a small Venice. Parties of every description plied back and forth on the waters and, although the winds at times were biting and cold, those who were out apparently had no concern. They were happy and the "red-eye" flowed as the water became higher and toward evening there were many who had partaken of quite a large quantity. Boats at Premium Boats were at a premium and at times there were dozens of persons standing on the high places and in buildings along the route awaiting an opportunity to secure a boat to go either to the business district or to South Wheeling, and many others who were returning from their daily work were held up by the small number of boats. In many cases exhorbitant prices were charged for a trip, but those who were forced to ride or swim, parted with the coin. The flood caught many business men on Main street unprepared and as a result the loss will be very heavy for some. Merchandise of every description was caught in the rise and one local wholesale house reported that practically everything on the first flood had been lost. Saloon Deserted One saloon on the south side was apparently vacated by the proprietor hurriedly, as much of the stock including a line of choice liquors were left upon the bar, and afforded a temptation to many to try to get within to get at it. In a confectionery on Market street a bunch of bananas was left hanging in the window and the water had reached to the bottom of the bunch. Retaurants in the deluged portion of the business district suffered considerably and the water was high within the rooms. Furniture, food and fixtures could be seen floating around on the water within the buildings. The day was an exciting one for citizens of the city in general and for many who were fortunate enough to own boats it was a profitable one as well.

Wheeling Intelligencer,
March 28, 1913, p. 5


1913 Flood
Flood Notes

The water made its way around the Klapprott residence at the corner of National Road and Glenwood station. The Dieringer grocery, at the entrance to the lane, was well under water and very little of the contents were saved. The Ohio Valley Drug company lost $2,000 worth of stock yesterday. This represents the merest fraction of their total stocks however. The Market Auditorium company came forward yesterday afternoon with an offer of the stalls along the arcade, for the use of homeless people. Several slips along the National road are reported about Fulton, Glendale and other points as a result of the heavy rains. No serious damage has been done. Much damage has been done to the Wheeling ballpark by the flood stage. The grounds are entirely covered and as the management had but a few days ago started a number of men at work repairing the stands and had placed considerable repair material on the ground the loss will be rather heavy. Early Thursday morning ten saw-horses were placed in the B. & O. passenger station and the long oak benches at the station were lifted up on the props. Steamboat activity is entirely suspended, as it is impossible for any craft of any size to get under the bridges over the Ohio with the present prevailing stage of water. Pianos, evidently taken from the flooded district, lined Fifteenth street two deep between Chapline and Eoff streets. The sight caused much comment, as it was very unusual. As usual complaint was made that ferrymen were charging exorbitant rates. Ordinarily it cost the unfortunate anywhere from fifty cents to a dollar or more to be hauled a square. Up the lane A. D. Mead sustained considerable loss by not being able to move his furniture to the second flood, all of his chickens, including Buff Orpingtons and Leghorns, were drowned. Considerable valuable freight is said to have been caught in the P. C. C. & St. L. R. R. company's freight station by the rapid rise of the river. The water came up so fast that it was impossible to get all of the freight out. Wheeling and Moundsville are entirely cut off to travel, slips along the narrows having caused much trouble. Men were reported to have been working on the road all day to get it in shape. Charles W. Brockunier and family are in California. No one entered their residence to remove the furniture and at midnight last night there was five feet of water on the first floor. Mail deliveries were also greatly crippled yesterday by the water. There were but two deliveries yesterday, on at 7 a.m., and the other at 1 p.m. Owing to the fact that nearly all of the railroad lines are tied up, the mail has been very light. The entire fire department responded to a call from box No. 54 yesterday morning at 5 o'clock at the residence of Charles Kite, at Twenty-eighth and Eoff streets. The fire was caused by a gas explosion and did not amount to much, but the entire department responded, under orders from Chief Rose, in order to immediately check any possible disastrous fire. The sales during flood time will cover the sales of the entire year. Water in over the Panhandle Traction lines above the Terminal bridge having reached that point about noon yesterday. The high water about the Terminal bridge has forced the Martins Ferry people to go to the hillside in getting between Wheeling and that point. The L. E. Sands residence, at the corner of South Penn and Ohio streets had just been completely decorated by interior decorators and it certainly was distressing to see the water pour in and completely ruin the handsome mural work. Many suburbanites took advantage of the transportation to the city which Manager Warfield, of the West Virginia Traction & Electric company arranged, using the B. & O. shuttle to Mt. de Chantal, thence by the electric car to Elm Grove. The two bridges over the river and the street fronting on the river, not affected by the water, attracted thousands of sightseers to the waterfront. The high river seems to have an irresistible charm for many and hundreds stood about by the hour watching the swift sweep past. Police Chief Hastings yesterday received a long distance appeal from H. Selkowitch, of the chamber of commerce of Zanesville, asking for help. Zanesville is from 5 to 10 feet under water, martial law prevails and the city's food supply is running short. The dyeing and blueing establishment of the Stifel calico works was closed for the second time in history yesterday on account of high water. The dyeing establishment is situated lower than the rest of the plant and was affected by the water at noon. Telephone service in and about the town was greatly handicapped yesterday on account of the high water and great inconvenience was the result among the marooned flood sufferers who could not get into communication with the outside world. The Bell system is said to have suffered more heavily as in many places wires were under water and poles were down. The creeks and smaller streams in this vicinity were still bank full yesterday morning, although considerable of the water was backed in from the river, the creeks being unable to throw any water out into the river on account of the strong current there. Owing to the very high stage of the river yesterday owners of house boats found some difficulty in finding harbors of safety owing to the fact that the current on all covered streets was very swift and but few places of safety were afforded along the river front. A member of the Joseph Spiedel company stated yesterday that the loss to the wholesale merchants on Main street would be more acute this time than ever before, because they had such a short warning to prepare for the worst flood since 1884. He said they had a serious loss to their flour stock. A rather peculiar feature of the present flood is the apparent absence of small drift. Logs, trees, small sheds, etc. passed in but small numbers. The absence of such drift is credited to the fact that the Ohio valley suffered a flood in January which cleaned out most of the drift. Railroad traffic has been entirely paralyzed by the flood. The terminal depot and passenger sheds are nearly entirely under water and not even a switching engine could be run on the line yesterday. The Ohio River line is entirely submerged and other lines are affected. The only open line yesterday was the B. & O. between Pittsburgh and this point. It was a pitiful sight to see the removal of sick people from dwelling in various parts of the city. In numerous cases invalids and bed-fast persons were carried into boats through second story windows. In one case a woman with seven children, the youngest six weeks, and two of them twins of eighteen month, were taken from their Island home in a boat. One of the twins was suffering from pneumonia. Business in the retail district was practically at a standstill all day yesterday. Dry goods, millinery and general stores were vacant, and there were very few people in the shopping district except those who were sightseeing. Most of the stores only had a few clerks on duty, but they were not kept busy. Many of the clerks who live in the flooded sections were glad to get away and attend to various duties at their homes. T. P. McLaughlin, proprietor of a saloon at Twelfth and Water streets, inaugurated an original scheme when he hired the owners of the barge Sterling to put on board all of the barrels of booze contained in the house. In former floods Mr. McLaughlin sent his stuff up street. Sometimes the stage of water did not warrant his moving and the expense of hauling was lost, but in all events he generally had to pay a big bill for hauling. With the loaded barge he will have his property at his door when the river begins to recede. Many last night feared a food famine, but it is thought there will be little actual suffering for want of food, thanks to the generosity of the charitably disposed. A fine two-story frame house went to pieces on one of the piers of the steel bridge yesterday afternoon. The wonder of it all, however, is that it found its way so far downstream without meeting a similar fate. The South Side is practically isolated from the main section of the city, except by ferry. An express wagon did a good business over the creek bridge for a few hours yesterday afternoon. Island residents will lose thousands of dollars as a result of the high water. Many beautiful lawns will be ruined, while fences have been carried away, to say nothing of the damage to the houses. "Have a bus at the station to meet us,"wired Manage James Lee's Orpheum attractions from a Pennsylvania city. "Come on, went back the reply, "and you'll find a canal boat in waiting to carry you to the theatre." On all railroad bridges over Wheeling creek coal cars, loaded freight cars and other massive movables were placed out upon the structures to keep them from going out. The B. & O. bridges and Pennsylvania bridge at the mouth of Wheeling creek were entirely submerged and the water was half way up on the loaded coal cars that were holding down the structures. Carrying a Bible in her hand, her eyes full of tears, an old woman called at the general delivery window of the postoffice yesterday and asked if any mail was being received from Dayton. Of course there wasn't. Then she said that her people all lived there -- right in the stricken section, and she had grave fears that they have perished among the hundreds of others. Owners of flat-boats who established transfers at Market street bridge reaped a rich harvest of quarters yesterday as there were many hundreds of residents of the lowlands of South Wheeling who abandoned their homes and sought refuge in the center of the city. All such persons were forced to use the boats at the Creek Bridge to get to dry land. With water covering Main street from the creek to Twelfth, varying in depth from two to four or more feet, wholesale dealers and merchants along that business thoroughfare entirely abandoned their houses and stores. Every damageable object had been moved out. A bad feature of the high water in this section is that the produce dealers cannot supply the demand for edibles and as a result a slight famine may be felt. The police, especially those, who have been assigned to flood district duty, are receiving the thanks of many for their activities in relieving flood sufferers. The police have done gallant work and deserve much commendation as they have been carrying people from flooded houses, carrying food and helping families to move to higher ground. The Bell Telephone Company pressed some of its male employees into service last evening, since many of the girls were unable to be at work. The repairmen are working day and night but in spite of this fact hundreds of telephones on both sides of the river are "out." There is practically no service on the Island on either the Bell or National.

Wheeling Register,
March 28, 1913, p.8

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