Nathaniel Baxter Musteen: Benton County Arkansas Roads

Nathaniel Baxter Musteen

Nathaniel Baxter Musteen with one of the draft horses used to pull grading equipment for Benton County roads.

Nathaniel, born Aug 7 1876, held a contract with Benton County, AR, to grade roads, and heavy equipment was drawn by teams of large draft animals. Dad once said Grandpa’s barn had room for 65 horses. If any cousins have different details about the number of horses, know more about the equipment, own photos, etc., please email me (rebecca-johnson@sbcglobal.net), or post details in the comments section below.

I know very little about the types of equipment, other than graders for the many dirt roads. And I’ve never seen a photo of a wide, multi-pronged grader…Dad talked about the horses, barn and equipment a few times as I grew up.

Grandpa was still using horses for several years after the last children, Dad and Jack, were born in September of 1929. Nathaniel stood well over six feet, so you can see in the photo above that his horses were sturdy work animals.

Rogers  Brick Streets

Rogers brick streets, photo from Wikipedia, with permission of Douglas Wertman

For years I believed he had paved the brick streets in downtown Rogers, but I later learned that Grandpa’s crews graded the roadbed very finely, and an outside contractor from another town brought his teams to place the bricks.

Debbie Musteen Phillips and Rebecca Musteen Johnson

Debbie and Becky on Grandma’s block

When Grandpa died from a heart attack at age 70 in 1946, he left the frontage of an entire commercial block on 2nd street to my grandmother. Their white stucco home was on the south end, next was a barber shop. Other businesses included a tire shop, a laundry and a grocery at the north end, managed by Jack and Rosemary Garner who attended the Church of Christ with Grandma.

My  cousin, Debbie Musteen Phillips, scanned the only photo I have of Grandma’s block view. The house and the small, white frame barber shop are south of where she’s standing behind me. Debbie reminded me recently that Grandma was always telling us to stand facing into the sunlight as she snapped photos…resulting sometimes in glaring squints instead of relaxed smiles!

If anyone has more photos of this block, please let me know. The buildings have recently been demolished to build a large, national chain gas station.

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Nathaniel Baxter Musteen & Jennie Lee Brown Children

Nathaniel married Feb 14, 1898 in Rogers, Benton Co., AR to Zelpha Katherine Kennan,* who was born Oct 22, 1878, in Rogers, Benton Co., AR. She died of tuberculosis, leaving Nathaniel with four young children. Here is a link to show all 12 of Nathaniel’s children.

Nathaniel, as a young widower with four surviving children, married Jennie Lee Brown about 19 months later on Dec 8, 1912 in Rogers, Benton Co., AR. Jennie was born Jul 31, 1887 in Rogers, AR.

Viveline, the 2nd child, died as an infant.

Viveline M. Musteen

Nathaniel and Jennie had seven children. The last were identical twins, born when the couple were ages 53 and 43. The twins were 26 years younger than their oldest half-brother, Walter.

Jack and Joe were infamous for mischief! I found one newspaper article about summer camp as young teenagers…they won the title of “Camp Pests.”

Grandma said, when I dropped by to visit once, “My children were mostly born late at night after wash day.” We can imagine a back-breaking day, using a wooden paddle and scrub board. She bent over a huge cast iron kettle of boiling water filled with soiled clothes and shavings of homemade lye soap. Feet allowed a fire to be kindled outdoors under the tub to heat the wash and then rinse water. She still had a galvanized scrub board and made several batches of lye soap, both to use and to demonstrate the process, when her grandchildren were young.

Granddaughter Jennie Musteen Hill inherited the big cast iron laundry tub that Joe used as a planter for years, until his own death.

Aunt Mary, who was almost 8 when they were born, said in her 80s that she had no idea the twins were expected.

Jack and Joe Musteen

Jack (L) and Joe (R) MusteenGrandma was expecting Jack and Joe. The children slept on the floor above Grandma and Grandpa’s bedroom in the house on 2nd street, with stairs going up though their parent’s bedroom. Mary said she came downstairs one morning to be surprised by twin babies!

The photo below is the only formal picture I know of their family group. I recently watched the few minutes of video that Uncle Hubert shot while Grandpa was alive, and I was surprised at how much Grandma laughed and smiled…what fun she was having while they opened Christmas presents with teenaged twins. Weeks after the twins returned from Korea, snippets of video captured great happiness in a holiday dinner.

Nathaniel Baxter Musteen

Left to right, Wayne, Mary, Hubert, Jack, Jennie, Nathaniel and Joe Musteen.

Parents
Nathaniel Baxter Musteen, b Aug 7 1876, d Nov 18 1946
Jennie Lee Brown Musteen, b Jul 31, 1887, d Mar 1975

Children
Hubert Lee Musteen, b Nov 1 1913, d Jun 27 1956
Viveline M. Musteen, b Jun 29 1916, d Feb 18 1918
Wayne Hebron Musteen, b Oct 29 1918, d Sep 21, 2003
Mary Virginia Musteen, b Jan 27 1922, d Feb 7, 2011
Bennie Dean Musteen, b Feb 5 1925, d Dec 31 1934
Jack Raymond Musteen, b Sep 15 1929, d Jul 19 1983
Joe Brown Musteen, b Sep 15 1929, d Dec 17, 1991

Bennie Dean Musteen

Bennie Dean Musteen

Viveline died as an infant. Bennie Dean lived to almost age 10. Mary’s son, Bennie Joe Stevenson has the names of her two brothers. This photo of Bennie Dean was taken at home. Grandma Jennie’s grandchildren will remember seeing that varnished oak side table as a constant in her living room over the years.

Until recently I hadn’t thought of Grandma as an older, single mother of teenage boys. Grandpa died when the twins were 17, and they were not quiet, introverted young men. She was living alone when the twins were sent to Korea.

Please add comments and information that I may not know or have listed here. Let’s compile interesting and enjoyable memories for ourselves and later generations.

*Zelpha’s name is shown in many online references as Zilpha.

 

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