Samuel Jasper Rhodes supposedly married four or five times in his 85 years. The correct count is uncertain. One wife supposedly left him. Others died on him. One outlived him.
The 1870 census listed Sam as a coach maker. By 1880, he was a farmer. Really, though, he was a preacher even if he couldn’t read the Bible. He was the type of preacher who believed so much in the holy spirit that he didn’t fear snakes.
Sam called himself a holiness preacher. I gather that means he didn’t swear, drink alcohol, gamble or dance. It’s a wonder he found five wives.
His grandson later remembered two things about his grandfather: He liked to tinker on the piano and he would pretend to read the Bible, not realizing that it was upside down.
Sam’s wives included Sarah Jane Long, Elizabeth Isabel Soprina Cain, Virginia Swearingen and Lavinia Catherine Rhodes. The children numbered nearly a dozen.
He and Sarah Jane were my grandmother’s great-grandparents.
His grandson wrote this in 1963:
“I don’t know or remember ever having heard where Grandpa came from, who his family were or anything else. It would seem that all he cared about was “Now” and his lust for women and his calling to preach … He was and still is an enigma.”
Sam fought in the Civil War. His service earned him a pension and a habit of visiting his children for monthlong stays in his final years. He’d stay with a child until his pension check arrived. Then he’d buy a train ticket and head to the next child’s house.