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By chance, family research trip brings two Dale cousins together

Gerald Dale Smith from Texas and Dr. Keith Allan Dale from California, both family historians, visited the Moses Dale Cemetery. (Photo by Linda Emley)

Gerald Dale Smith from Texas and Dr. Keith Allan Dale from California, both family historians, visited the Moses Dale Cemetery. (Photo by Linda Emley)

By Linda Emley

The Ray County Museum is a magical place because I’ve experienced more miracles in this building than any other place on earth. It’s totally amazing how many times I’ve seen something happen that just cant be explained. The following story is good example of how history comes alive on the hill at the Ray County Museum.

On Wednesday, June 10, 2015, I was sitting in my office and Keith Allan Dale from California walked in. He told me he was looking for information about Moses Dale and his family. I started laughing because I’ve been working on Moses for several years. I explained the house that Moses built is still standing. I told him that a few years ago, Gerald Smith from Texas stopped by and I took him out to see the Moses Dale house. I explained that I would see if I could get permission to take him out to see the old home place. As we were talking, in walked Gerald Smith from Texas. I said, “Speaking of the devil, this is your cousin from Texas that visited the Moses Dale home with me a few years ago.” I think they both thought I was joking, but after I introduced them, they finally realized what just happened. And that is how our adventure started.

I took the cousins to the genealogical library and told them to swap stories and holler if they needed anything. A little later, I checked in with them and we looked over a few documents in the library. It was decided that we needed to visit the Moses Dale house and the Moses Dale Cemetery, so we made plans to meet for breakfast the next morning and go from there.

Any logical person would think Moses Dale would be buried in the Moses Dale Cemetery, but he isn’t. He was buried at Todd’s Chapel in 1921. After the museum closed, Gerald took his newly discovered cousin up to visit Moses and then they both went back to their rooms at the Super 8. I was left with the task of finding the Moses Dale Cemetery and seeing if we could visit it the next day. It is a very small family plot on private land so I knew it might be hard to find. I called my friend Veronica Dale Shane and she gave me directions to the cemetery. I also talked to the Skiles, who are neighbors to the farm. I drove out to the house and no one was there, so I left a note on their door and told them what we wanted to do. I gave them my phone number and asked them to call me. I called Jo Ellen Dale and asked her to meet us for breakfast the next morning. After I got back to the museum, I stayed up half the night reviewing my Dale file so I would be ready for our cemetery visit the next morning.

We met for breakfast at 8 a.m., and I introduced the Dale cousins to Jo Ellen. I was trying to work up enough courage to tell the boys that I hadn’t heard back from the landowners when my phone rang. It all worked out perfectly and within a few minutes we were in Swanwick getting ready to visit the cemetery. The lady of the house offered us a ride in her 4-wheel drive. They had just moved to the property three weeks ago, so it was a new adventure for us all.

In the middle of a grove of trees, we found around 10 tombstones. Three were still standing and the others were piled up together, so Keith started pulling weeds and taking pictures. I was taking pictures of Keith taking pictures because it was fun watching him discover his great-great-great-grandfather William Dale. I may be a few greats off, but I’m sure you understand this is what he came all the way from California to see. While we were in the car, we drove around the block to see the Moses Dale home.

Now it was time to get back to the museum and get ready to open. Every Thursday is work day at the museum and I fix lunch for the crew that comes to help. My mother fixed lunch for us on this day and I invited Keith and Gerald to join us. It was fun talking about our adventure over lunch. After a visit to the Ray County Library and the Ray County Courthouse archives, I had shared the Dale cousins’ story several times. After each introduction, they were asked if they were kin to Allen Dale. Gerald met Allen a few years ago, but we decided it was time for Keith to meet the mysterious Allen Dale that everyone seemed to know. We all traveled out to Blair’s and I got to introduce the Dale cousins.

As the Dale cousins travel back to California and Texas, I’m left here to work on getting the Moses Dale Cemetery fixed up and ready for future visits from the Dale clan. This one is going to be easy because the new owners of the Moses Dale Cemetery are excited to help with the restoration. I want to give a big thanks to the Trout family for caring about this cemetery.

Now for a brief history of the cemetery. We are still piecing it all together, but it looks like Susan Buntin Dale was the first person buried there on Aug 15, 1842. She was the first wife of Joshua Dale. His second wife, Sarah, died in 1858 and is also buried there. Joshua died in 1886 and is buried in another Dale cemetery in Ray County next to his third wife, Elizabeth; she died in 1914. Joshua had 10 children with his three wives during his time in Ray County and was an Uncle of Moses Dale.

William Dale is the last known person buried there on Nov 16, 1884. He was also an uncle of Moses Dale. Some of William’s family moved to New Mexico and then on to California. William had a grandson named Moses Dale who died in California May 3, 1947. It’s nice to see people give their children family names to honor their ancestors.

Many times in history, the pioneer women take a back seat to their husbands because that is just the way it was back then. I did run across an interesting story about one of the women buried at the Moses Dale Cemetery. Catharine Purell Dale was born in Maryland in 1773, just a few years before we became a nation. She left her parents, Matthew and Elizabeth Avery Purnell, in Maryland. Her husband, Matthew Dale, was also from Maryland, but he died in 1814 in Kentucky. She moved to Ray County and died on Nov. 5, 1851. Catharine and Matthew had 10 children.

One family story says that Matthew was a sea captain who sailed on vessels that traded in the West Indies. Revolutionary War records show that he served as a private in the war and received a grant of 100 acres for his service, so this may be why they moved to Kentucky. Matthew was in his late 40s when he married his teenaged wife, Catharine. She left Kentucky in the 1830s and moved to Ray County with her son, Isaac, and his family. Isaac was the father of Moses Dale. Catharine’s sons John and Joshua soon followed and moved to Ray County.

The Moses Dale Cemetery has now been scratched off my bucket list of Ray County cemeteries to find. I have many more to visit, but I plan on spending my summer working on this one and maybe have the rest of the story by fall. I want to know how many are buried here and piece together their family tree. So far we have eight Dales and two Nadings. William and Gertrude Nading were the children of Alfred and Almerinda Dale Nading. These two children died young. When Almerinda died in 1905, she was buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Ray County. Her obituary said she was the daughter of Joshua Dale. It also said she was the mother of 11 children, five of whom had preceded her in death.

My great grandmother, Nellie Jane Campbell Schooler, outlived her son, who was my grandfather. I remember her saying that no one should ever outlive her children. In the past many people outlived half their children, so I’m glad we live in the world of modern medicine

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