The Cleeton and Berry/Wood Families


To millions of American school children dozing through the droning of dates and names that passes for history lessons, 1803 is a date that must be remembered for future tests as the date of the Louisiana Purchase.  For me, 1803 is the birth year of James Cleeton, my great, great, great grandfather.   His son, Moses, was probably born in 1829, about the time that Noah Webster published his first dictionary. 


Moses' son, James Wesley, was born in the busy year of 1851, when Levi Strauss introduced the first jeans which he quickly invented when he found he could make more money from converting the tent canvas he shipped to San Francisco to trousers for prospectors.  1851 also saw Amelia Bloomer publicly wearing full-cut trousers under a skirt; that same year YMCA opened its first American offices in Boston, Samuel Colt introduced a revolver, Harriet Beecher Stowe published "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and I.M. Singer patented a sewing machine.


When Arthur Brock was "doing a prosperous and honorable business" as the owner of the Owasco store in 1877, he had an employee of great importance to me.  Davis Berry was working as a hired hand for Mr. Brock; in 1879 Davis Berry and his wife Phoebe had a daughter named, Allie - my mother's mother.


The Remington typewriter was introduced the year before Oscar Floyd Cleeton was born in 1875.  John Wesley Hardin killed his 20th victim that year, and margarine arrived in the United States, but the really big event (other than the birth of my grand father) was when Robert Green invented the ice cream soda.  Floyd Cleeton was variously a farmer, a Justice of the Peace, a drug store owner, and a bar tender, but before he died in 1949, he was an affectionate, pipe tobacco smelling grandpa with a bushy white moustache. 


Floyd married Allie Berry, and one of their eight children was Martha Ivis, my mother.  Born in 1905, the year that Debussy published Clair de Lune, in 1921 Martha was a 16 year old teacher at the Rose Hill school just north of Bute, Missouri, and in 1923, the year of the Great Tokyo Earthquake, she was married to Fred Riddle.  42 years later she was to have a more direct connection to Tokyo, but she could hardly have foreseen that in 1923 when she moved from Floyd's home in Winigan to the Riddle family farm a mile south of Owasco.  In 1959 Fred and Martha lost their home to a fire, and they built a new house at what was known in the family as "the Brock place" at the Owasco intersection, a few hundred yards from the Owasco church and cemetery.  While waiting for the house to be finished, Fred and Martha and their son, (me), lived in the then empty Owasco schoolhouse, about half a mile north of Owasco.


David (Davis) Berry (1850-1936) came to Missouri from Illinois with his wife, Phoebe (Wood) Berry.  He worked for Arthur Brock who then was postmaster and store owner at Owasco.  He helped Mr Brock with the farming and also drove a team of horses to Brunswick, Missouri, to bring goods to the Owasco store that had been shipped to Brunswick on the Missouri River.  His parents were Nelson Berry (born in North Carolina) and Elizabeth Alexander (born in Kentucky), who arrived in Missouri from Illinois sometime between 1860 and 1870.   Phoebe Wood (1855-1936) was the daughter of Edward Wood and Jane Knight, both of whom emigrated to Iowa from Canada around 1854, and later moved to Missouri.  Jane's ancestor was Simeon Short, whose descendants included surnames Curry, Knight, Reed, Short, Thrall and others.


It is through my Cleeton ancestors that I am related to the Dillinger and Beck families.