Meet Cora Ann Skelton


My name is Cora Ann Skelton. I was born in Stoddard, Missouri on February 9, 1873. I died on September 20, 1917 at the age of 44. I married James Alexander Horton on May 15th, 1892. I was 19 years old. I was one of 10 children of John Skelton and Lucretia Mcpheeters. I had ten children; John Daniel, Charley, Vera, Walter, Herman, Marshall, Roy, Nellie, Bertha, and Ralph.

My brother Rueben committed suicide. He had a mental breakdown and locked himself in the attic with his bible and spent several days reading it. They found him hanging from the rafters. I never liked him but he planted the seed.

My father came to Stoddard county from Hawkins county, TN. He had owned some slaves in TN but knew that the area of southeast MO didn’t like slavery but they also didn’t like blacks. So before he moved he freed his slaves. One slave was named Jake and he had taken our last name. He had been with them most if not all of his life. He refused to leave them after receiving his freedom and make the journey with them to MO. It was a worry to my family that he would be beaten or worse by some ignorant member of the KKK which was pretty well established in Stoddard County at that time. They did finally talk him into moving and he settled in an African-American community near Cape Girardeau, MO. I lost a true friend in Jake.

After ten children my husband left me in 1915 the year young Ralph was born. Ten children, four room shack, five acres with a lone oak tree smack in the middle. The summer and early fall of 1917 were brutally hot, even for southeast MO. That’s when I lost my mind; “snapped” they would say today. I wanted to take Ralphie with me, but in my state of mind could not figure out how to do it. It was surprising easy once I got the rope over the lower limb. Just slipped the noose over my neck and jumped off the peach basket.

Cora Ann Skelton
Cora Ann Skelton

Cora was my great-grandmother.


Danny Boy!

Do you know the meaning of your name, and why your parents chose it? Do you think it suits you? What about your children’s names?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us IDENTITY.

My mother named me Danny; not Dan; not Daniel. I think she did this because of a popular tune of the day called “Danny Boy”. The words, as I look back today, mean a lot more than I realized before my mother’s death in 2002. Especially:

——And if you come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
I pray you’ll find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me.

And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warm and sweeter be
And then you’ll kneel and whisper that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so.
Original Lyrics by English Lawyer and Lyricist Fred Weatherly in Bath, Somerset 1910. It’s strange that I was in Bath a couple of years ago.
Bath, England
Bath, England
On a lighter note, besides my given name of Danny, I been called the following:
  1. Dan===In Michigan where I grew up. I thought “Dan” was way cooler than “Danny.”
  2. DJ===Close friends
  3. Mr. James===People that do not know me. Hello telemarketers. That name is reserved for my Dad.
  4. Mr. Danny===People here in the South. I though it was a joke at first but it’s not. Just the Southern way!
  5. You Little Turd!===When my grandmother was tired of me.

Thanks to the Daily Prompt.



Untold Stories

The Horton Clan
The Horton Clan

One of my favorite songs from days past was Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells a Story.” I think the above photo has quite a few stories it could tell. The gentleman top row third from the left is my Grandfather Herman Horton. surrounding him are his brothers and sisters. Those were hard times but their appearance betrays that fact. To me they look almost prosperous. Most of the Horton Clan had moved north to Michigan from Missouri to take advantage of the jobs in the automotive industry. From farmers to labors. My Grandmother told me stories of how she would throw food through the windows of the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan. In 1937 the workers went on a “Sit Down Strike.” In a sit-down strike, the workers physically occupy the plant, keeping management and others out. By remaining inside the factory rather than picketing outside of it, striking workers prevented owners from hiring strike breakers to take their jobs and resume production.

That was one of the few stories I remember. I did some research and found out that one of my relatives committed suicide, and I found a birth certificate of an Uncle I never knew I had. These were some of the stories that no one would talk about. I remember asking my dad some family related questions that I knew the answer was not pretty or even legal. His response….”We don’t talk about those things.”

I wish all these people were alive today as I would have a thousand questions for them. Growing up I was not interested in the past only in the present and future. Stupid me.

My father passed away a few years ago and I found a box of letters, hundreds of letters, that he wrote to my mom while he was in the service during WWII. I asked him about his experiences in France and Germany and true to form his response was, as expected, “We don’t talk about those things.”

If you want to know some more of my family’s untold stories I would like to help but “I don’t talk about those things.”


George Leon James

George Leon James (2)

He was my father.

He was your father-in-law, but loved you more as a daughter than as a daughter-in-law. He taught you how to make a pineapple upside down cake and a pot roast; you taught him how to appreciate the wonders of North Carolina, California, Arizona, kittens, and the love of a daughter in law.

He was your brother. To have a brother for 84 years, what wonderful memories you must have. I have memories of 59 years and you have 84 years of memories of my Dad. How wonderful!

He was your brother-in-law. But loved and respected as a family member.

He was your uncle Leon. I find it pleasing that we still respect our relatives by calling them by Uncle, Aunt, or Cousin. I still call my relatives by their respective titles (Uncle Paul, Aunt Tymn, Aunt Janice, Aunt Wanda, Aunt Betty, Aunt Marion, Cousin Ronnie, Cousin Mickey, Cousin Margina, Cousin Bonnie, Cousin Linda, Cousin Jim, just to name a few) although my wife kids me that I say “cousnit” Ronnie rather than Cousin Ronnie. My wife, after she was introduced to most of the family members on our first trip back to Michigan after being married commented: Well, this will be pretty simple, everyone’s first name is either Aunt, Uncle, or Cousin. But what I can’t understand is why half of them are know by their middle names (George Leon, William Cecil, Joyce Wanda, Betty Janice, Mary Juanita).

He was your co-worker. Since I also worked for the Chessie System for over 10 years and know most of his co workers I know you have many stories of my Dad that you cherish.

He was your neighbor. Thank God for good neighbors! You truly are a God Send!

He was your friend and companion.

He was your golfing partner or racetrack friend.

We grieve for our loss and for our inability to spare each other a pain so deep and so wide that words fail to express its true size.

As many of you know, he was an active celebrant of life (my Dad would like that choice of words from his son), but what I mean is he truly enjoyed his life. A man prone to regaling his audiences with stories too numerous to recount (ak a BS er), a man who is curious about all that is around him, and a man who is a true believer in the value of friendships.  Your presence here honors him deeply, and I thank you on his behalf.

My job today is to relate a little bit about my father’s life to you.  Perhaps to reveal a little bit of him that you may not have known or share an anecdote or two which will refresh our memories of him.  This will be difficult mainly because not only am I losing a father but my best friend, my role model, and my hero.

Dear Dad,

You are a special person to a great many people. You probably did not even realize the kind of affect you have had on so many people’s lives. You have been a dear husband, father, father-in-law, uncle, brother-in-law, friend, employer, business associate, neighbor, to name a few. We know of countless friends and admirers from each of these connections that formed the web of your life whom have shared the profound impact you have had on them. You have been a bright beacon that stands for virtuous living, standing strong for what is really important in life… family, integrity and the recognition that it is God’s will to do good with the talents He has given us.

Dad, many of us gathered here in your memory could provide testimony regarding how special you were in their lives. They each could describe how your unique blend of honesty, responsibility, and your genuine interest, compassion, fairness, and down-to-earth sense of humor made a difference in their lives. All of us will feel your loss in countless ways.

All of us gathered here today are coping with a very complicated set of feelings that marry the joy and pride of having known you with the pain that comes with the reality that you are gone for a short while. For those of us here this morning that are strong in faith, we have no doubt that this loss is only temporary. We know where you are right now. You are in God’s Heavenly Kingdom celebrating your wonderful life along with our ancestors who have watched you over the years with great pride and happiness. You are in a place where peace, love and joy far surpass the best our world has to offer, and you deserve every last bit of it!

Dad, even though there are so many of your fans here this morning, this tribute is about how special you are to us, your children, family and friends. By sharing a few details about how you helped to shape us, we will likely strike chords with all present today on how you helped influence them as well.

Dad, you are the best father we ever could have asked for. We thank God for giving you to us. Yet now, we all suffer an inexpressible feeling of loss and sadness. Our hope is that now that you are in a place where you can see and hear us clearly… where you possess all the wisdom of the ages, and you now