A couple of months ago I got a phone call from Marty Stroup of Canada, telling me he was the husband of one of my cousins.
Her name was Ladonna Vanover Stroup, and her father, James Gilliam Vanover, had died in 2003 in Sonora, Calif., and when she recently was going through some of his things in his basement, she ran across a box of papers with my name on them and a lot of information I had sent to him on the Vanovers that he never knew about.
I was in touch with him in the 1980s by phone and mail for about two years. We were going to get together for a visit.
At that time he did not know that there was another Vanover in California. Ladonna tells me her dad became forgetful in the late 1990s, and I lost track of him.
James Vanover and I, being old veterans of the old Army Air Corps, had a lot to talk about. He served during the war in traffic control, and when I reenlisted in 1947, I was in Air Sea Rescue Service with all enlisted pilots, and James said he knew some of them.
Ladonna now wants to know about her ancestry and her husband got hooked as well. Her husband Marty served in Viet Nam with the 16th Armored Calvary under Gen. Patton (the son), so I took it upon myself to help her find her ancestors.
She said that her dad had come from Kansas, but what she did not know after I started going through my Vanover family book of 400 pages, is that her dad lived in Pike County with others of her ancestors.
When my great-greatgrandparents left Ashe County, N.C., and came to Pound, Va., his son went on to Pike County with other Vanovers. When the coal company bought up the land in Letcher County, her ancestors from Pike County were some of the first people who came to Burdine to work for the coal company cleaning the land and building the first houses, and then worked in the mines.
Her ancestor Henry Vanover was deeded 900 acres in East Jenkins for his service in the Union Army, and many Vanovers are still there today.
I went to Burdine School with their grandchildren, and one of the Vanover ladies was my teacher at Jenkins High School.
A lot of Ladonna’s kin are buried in the Vanover Cemetery at East Jenkins.
I’ve sent Ladonna a package to Canada, telling her all this new information I’ve found about her ancestors and it takes about 10 days for the mail to get to her. I would like to see the look on her face when she opens her mail and reads it.
She knew nothing about these new ancestors.
I’m in the process of trying to find her a copy of the Vanover Family Book, printed in 1989 by a cousin from Clintwood, Va., who is a retired schoolteacher.