After a difficult childhood, Fannie marries her prince

By Linda Emley

A 1913 photo of Richmond’s Shotwell family was purchased on eBay from a seller in New Mexico who knew nothing about its background. (Submitted photo)

I just got back from decorating the showcase at the Ray County Courthouse and thought it would be nice to write a story about one of our local doctors.
We added several old doctor items to the showcase, including two old traveling doctor bags that are full of different drugs that Dr. Charles Benjamin Shotwell used when he made house calls.
I started researching his family history and then I remembered that I had this picture that was taken on July 24, 1913 in Richmond. We know all the people and details about this picture because Jabez Elisha Shotwell took the time on Aug. 29, 1913 to write all about it on the back.
I was lucky enough to find this picture for sale on eBay in 2010 and bought it from a person in Santa Fe, N.M. I asked if they had information about where it came from, but they had no idea. We may never know how this picture got from Richmond to Santa Fe, but I am working on a theory because I found where one of the ladies in this picture was in Albuquerque, taking care of her dying son in 1891. After he died, he was brought back to Richmond and buried in the Shotwell family cemetery.
OK, so I was planning on writing a story about Dr. Charles Shotwell, but then a lady named Fannie Elizabeth Shotwell Royle stepped off the pages of this family history and got in the way of Doc Shotwell’s story.
Fannie Elizabeth Shotwell Royle is the lady in this picture who is wearing the white shirt and the black skirt. She was a 76-year-old widow when this picture was taken. The other lady is her 73-year-old sister-in-law, Julia E. Devlin Shotwell.
The men on the front row are 82-year-old Jabez Elisha Shotwell, 90-year-old William Morris Vanhorn Shotwell and 85-year-old John Warder Shotwell. The man standing is 80-year-old Charles Henry Shotwell.
All four men are brothers of Fannie. Julia is the wife of John Warder Shotwell. Now that I’ve introduced you to everyone in this picture, I’m going to give you the rest of the story about Fannie.
The details of Fannie’s life were easy for me to find because on May 23, 1923, her daughter Frances Royle Bane presented Fannie’s story to the Allen, Morton, Watkins Chapter of our local DAR.
The hard part was picking out the highlights of her life from her 12-page story. She and the Shotwell family have many connections to the history of Ray and Lafayette counties.
In 1833, Jabez and Elizabeth Elliott Shotwell left Kentucky and moved to Missouri. They had many adventures getting here, but that’s another story. After the family arrived, Fannie was born in Ray County on April 3, 1837.
Fannie’s first big adventure started when she was less than two years old. When Ray Countians became uneasy with the Mormon conflict, her family packed up all its household items and moved the women and children to Lexington. The men stayed back in Richmond to protect their home place. This was soon over and Fannie’s childhood resumed in Richmond.
There are many good tales of her childhood, but things changed when her only sister died. Fannie clung to a distant memory of her sister’s last communion. “The preaching and communion service was being held in the courthouse, and at its close, her father and brother-in-law went out of the house and in a few minutes returned carrying her sister in a chair. She took communion and was carried at once from the building. A few days later she died. This made a deep religious impression on Fannie.”
This service was conducted by the Baptist Church and many times after their regular church services,  the whole church would go to the Shotwell home for dinner. Fannie’s father was known as Judge Shotwell and was a well- liked person around town.
When Fannie was nine, the Mexican War broke out and she watched as Capt. Israel B. Henley and Company G left for Mexico. “She stood at the gate and watched them pass, her childish heart almost crushed with grief for fear none would return alive. Some months later she was present when the brave Captain, who was killed at Moro, N.M. was laid to rest with military honors in the old Martin Cemetery, a quarter of a mile west of town. The Captain’s horse and boots in stirrups, led by a young boy, followed the casket to its last resting place, and the volleys were fired over his grave by his own Company G.”
Israel B. Henley is buried in the middle of Lexington Street in west Richmond.  I am working on a story about him and will share it later.
When Fannie was 15, her mother died. Her father moved to the country and was away from home a lot because he was the county school commissioner. The family didn’t want her at home alone, so she went to live with her aunt, Mrs. David Quisenberry, in Richmond.
At age 17, she went to live with another aunt, Mrs. William H. Russell, in Lexington. This was a very happy time for Fannie because her aunt’s house was filled with young people.
Fannie’s story continued, “The Masonic College was at that time at its zenith, and the home of her aunt was the popular meeting place of the young professors and the girls of Lexington. The colonial porch in front and the wide verandas on either side of the house were splendid courting places, and were fully appreciated by those who took advantage of them. And here culminated the romance of her life, which commenced many years before, when a merry blue-eyed lad came riding down the hill, reveling in the fragrance of the early spring flowers, and listening to the song of the birds and humming of the bees in the locust blossoms. Suddenly, he spied an old homestead and a little dark-eyed girl seated on the doorstep with an accordion in her lap. He rode slowly by, and as he reached his ears and turning, he gave one long lingering look backward as the sun sank in the West, that cast its golden rays over the dark hair and unconscious face of the maiden, who little dreamed that her ‘Prince” was riding by.
The lad grew to early manhood and still his memory turned to the little accordion player, and one day in his own hometown he met a crowd of school girls and their midst he saw his “dream maiden.” The years passed by and they met often in her adopted home, and there they plighted their troth. On May 5, 1857, Fannie Elizabeth Shotwell married her prince, Milton Franklin Royle. They spent the next 52 years together and shared many adventures along the way.
Part two is coming next as we hear about their life during and after the American Civil War. You’ll also find out how one of my favorite streets in Richmond, Royle Street, got named after the Royle family from Lexington. I’m sure everyone has figured out why I like Royle Street, because 901 W. Royle Street is the address of the Ray County Museum, my home away from home.

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