Barber County Kansas

Written by Bob Whittaker




I gave this eulogy when we placed a marker on her grave in Ohio. It gives some history about Johnson "Bud" Adams and Elizabeth "Betty" Owens Joseph Adams. It took me three years to locate her unmarked grave.

This Polly Joseph Risner was the daughter of Elizabeth "Betty" Owens and her first husband Nelson Joseph. Polly was raised by Johnson "Bud" Adams as a step daughter. He performed the marriage of Polly Joseph and Lark Risner. I have family stories that Polly [daughter of Elizabeth "Betty" Owens Joseph Adams] and Lark Risner rode a wagon from KY to Sun City. They stayed one winter and returned to KY the next spring. The story goes that Polly was home sick for her Kentucky hills.

There were several KY families that moved from KY. These include some of my Whitakers and Salyers.



We are gathered at the Preston Cemetery in Alger, Ohio, to honor one of our ancestors. Polly Joseph Risner was born in Magoffin County, Kentucky, on Puncheon Creek on July 7, 1853. She died in Alger, Ohio, on May 29, 1938. She was 85 years, 4 months and 21 days old.

Polly was a very small, slim woman and she probably was of dark complection, dark hair and brown eyes. She had a "devilish" sense of humor and was easy to laugh.

Polly's father, Nelson Joseph, died of the "Croupe Colic" at 28 years old in April of 1860. Polly was 6 years old. Polly's mother, Elizabeth, was carrying a child and Polly's sister, Josephine, was born the following month, in May 1860.

"Up the branch" along the Licking River on Puncheon lived three families who would play an important part in our Polly's life.

The first family was Polly's grandparents, John Joseph and Usley Salyer. Polly, his sister and her mother Elizabeth lived next door to John and Ursley Joseph. John Joseph and Usley lived in "The Meadows" area near Royalton, Kentucky, and along the Licking River. John Joseph, born about 1804, was the son of Clemon Joseph, born about 1775. Clemon Joseph was the son of Clemmy Joseph, born about 1756. Clemmy Joseph was an Asyrian Jew who immigrated into Virginia from the Middle East. Polly's mother was Elizabeth "Betty" Owens. Elizabeth's parents were Robert Owens and Ruth or Rutha Howard. One can only guess the role Polly's grandparents had in her young life.

The second family "up the branch", on Puncheon, was Johnson "Bud" Adams, born 1828 in Scott County, Virginia. He had married Susanna Whitaker in 1846. Johnson Adams was a well-known minister in the area. In 1860, Johnson and Susanna Adams had seven children. In 1862, Susanna died leaving Johnson Adams a widower with seven children. On February 20, 1863, Johnson "Bud" Adams and Polly's mother, Elizabeth, married. He was 36, Elizabeth was 28 and Polly was 9. Johnson "Bud" Adams became our Polly's stepfather, legal guardian and the minister who later performed her wedding ceremonies.

We do know that Johnson "Bud" Adams joined the Union, 14th Kentucky Infantry Volunteers in late 1863. In 1864 at Chattanooga he deserted. Having a young wife with seven stepchildren and two of her own seems ample reason to desert. To this day Johnson owes the United States government $22.50 for a Springfield rife.

The third family was James "Jim" Risner and his wife, Margaret "Peggy" Adams. They had a large family but in the 1860 census their youngest child, Lark, was 9 years old. That year our Polly was 7. It is highly possible Lark and Polly knew and loved each other their entire lifetime. ON November 4, 1868, Johnson "Bud" Adams married Lark and Polly. She was 15 and Lark was 17. In the 1860 census Lark's father, Jim Risner, lived with Lark and Polly.

As Lark and Polly grew old, their daughter Josephine and Estill Marshall built them a small log house beside them. In early 1936 Lark died at 85. Later that year both Estill and Josephine died. Polly came to Alger, Ohio, to live with another daughter, June "Juni" Puckett. Polly died in 1938.

In 1873/74, Johnson "Bud" Adams and Elizabeth, Polly's mother, set off in a wagon train to Kansas. Johnson Adams set up a mission along the Santa Fe Trail. His church he founded is still a church in Sun City, Kansas. I once heard that Lark and Polly loaded up a wagon and also went to Kansas. They were both so homesick for their "Kentucky Hills" they sold their wagon and walked home the next spring. Polly's mother, Elizabeth, died in Sun City, Kansas, in 1898 and Johnson died in 1912.

Desertion from either side of the Civil War was considered "unforgivable" and, in large part, led to Polly's mother, Elizabeth, and Johnson Adams leaving Kentucky.

Lark and Polly had 9 children and 7 lived. They are:

  1. Fairlene, born March 1871. She married Ulysses Higgens. Farlene died in 1919 of a heart attack.

  2. Josephine, born 1872. She married Estill Marshall. They had many children and many descendents.

  3. Ursly, born July 1874. She married 1) Bill Whitaker, 2) Irving Cole. 3) Bill Whitaker. She married Bill Whitaker twice. She had 1 child with Irvine, 4 with Bill. They had descendents from 2 of her children.

  4. Idress "Ida", born in April 1878. She married Green Allen. There were many children and many descendents.

  5. Wiley, born November 1882. He married 1)Bertha Whitaker, 2) Bridia Salyer. He had 2 children with Bertha and 5 with Briada. There are many descendents.

  6. June "Juni", born July 1889. She married Press Puckett. They had several children and many descendents.

  7. Arizona "Zoni", born September 1899. She married German Fletcher. German was killed in a car by a train in 1933. They had 4 children and many descendents.

I estimate that Lark and Polly have 12-1400 descendents.

Our Polly was one of those who gave much more than she took. She experienced the same joys and sorrows in her life just as we do in ours. She was loved deeply by her children and husband. We owe her for the lives she gave us. Many of the values, looks and words we used today came from her. We ask God to bless the many descendents who are spread through out this nation. We hope she would be proud of what we are and for this small recognition we give her with this marker.

Thank you, Polly.

Elizabeth (Owens) Adams nee Joseph. 

Photo from the collection of Bob Whittaker.
Elizabeth (Owens) Adams nee Joseph of Sun City, Kansas
Photo from the collection of Bob Whittaker.


Thanks to Bob Whittaker for contributing the above eulogy and photograph to this web site!

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