Growing up on Walker Mountain, my great-grandfather Eli Pierce Waggoner, father of my grandmother Mary, and his many siblings enjoyed a childhood filled with “hunting, shooting, and the wonderful swimming holes in the deep creek near their home.” I’ve told Rachel’s story in my July 11, 2013, post titled “Rachel Haven’s Childhood: Not an Easy Life.” Eli’s story is different from Rachel’s in many ways, yet similar, too.
Eli was born 24 October 1854 in Smyth County, Virginia, a dark haired, bright eyed boy, the second child of nine born to Jacob and Anna F. (Harman) Waggoner. On the other hand, Rachel who was eight years younger the Eli was second to youngest of at least seven in the Havens family. (For sources on Rachel’s life, see the July 11, 2013, post.)
Eli’s father was a landowner, a farmer, a country doctor, and a justice of the peace. He helped establish a church and school in the community of Sharon; he filed bankruptcy twice. (More on him later.) Rachel’s father never owned land and seems not to have accumulated much financial wealth.
Eli’s mother Anna, after giving birth to her ninth child, a son named William, died 9 March 1871 when Eli was 14 years old. Rachel’s father died of unknown causes when Rachel was about age 6.
Eli’s father remarried within a year of Anna’s death to a much younger woman, Fanny Kirby, who had been employed as a “domestic servant” in the household before Anna died. Jacob was 45 and Fanny was 22. Together Jacob and Fanny had eleven more children. Rachel’s mother never remarried, and she struggled to support the children she had. From all indications, her older children supported her and the younger children.
Eli descended from German immigrants who came to America about 1753. Rachel descended from Scots-Irish immigrants who arrived on these shores about 1720.
Some similarities intertwined like wisteria vines throughout the childhoods of Eli and Rachel, too. Both knew the cool summer nights of the mountains and the rocky, rolling farmland of Bland and Smyth Counties. Both had little education and neither could read nor write. Both of their fathers were Confederate veterans. Both at a young age had experienced the death of a parent. Both had suffered a broken marriage prior to marrying each other.
When they married on 2 September 1885, Eli was a month shy of age 31, and Rachel was about ten weeks from her 23rd birthday. Rachel had been divorced a little more that a year. So far, I’ve not been able to find any records on how or when Eli’s first marriage ended nor verify by any official records where and when Rachel and Eli’s marriage occurred. If the marriage date is correct, they started their marriage with a baby boy already in their laps, Emory Marco, born three months before the marriage on 24 May in Bland County. Without doubt, they were seeing each other at the time of or soon after Rachel’s divorce. Why did they delay their marriage? Perhaps, Eli wasn’t free to marry someone else, yet. Wish I could find the records to prove my theory.
 Nancy A. Nash to Zola Troutman Noble, letter, 1 April 2003, quoting a letter to her from Forrest Philpott regarding his grandfather, H. H. Waggoner, brother to Eli Waggoner, describing their childhood in Virginia; privately held by Zola Troutman Noble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
 Virginia, Smyth County Register of Births, Book 1, p. 71, for Eli P. Waggoner, 1854; Office of the Clerk, Smyth County Court House, Marion.
 Thomas C. Hatcher and Nancy Nash, The Adam Waggoner Family of Tazewell and Montgomery Counties Virginia, 1750-1996 (no place, no publisher, 1996), p. 33. 1870 U. S. census, Sharon, Bland County, Virginia, population schedule, Sharon Post Office, p. 7 (penned), dwelling 47, family 47, Jacob Wagoner family; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 July 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M593, roll 1140.
 Virginia Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917, database Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 23 July 2013), entry for Anna Waggoner; FHL film no. 2056975.
 1870 U. S. census, Sharon, Bland County, Virginia, population schedule, Sharon Post Office, p. 7 (penned), dwelling 47, family 47, Jacob Wagoner family; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 July 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M593, roll 1140.
 Thomas C. Hatcher and Nancy Nash, The Adam Waggoner Family of Tazewell and Montgomery Counties Virginia, 1750-1996 (no place, no publisher, 1996), p. ii.
 Daniel Dunbar Howe, Listen to the Mockingbird (Boyce, Virginia: Carr Publishing Company, Inc., 1961), p. 367.