|Birth: ||Oct. 15, 1855|
|Death: ||Sep. 25, 1929|
John Wiley Bedwell was born October 18, 1855 in Letcher County Kentucky. His father, Erasmus Bedwell had arrived in Letcher County from Grayson County Virginia about 1850. On August 12 1852 Erasmus married Letty Adams of Letcher County. Their first child, a daughter Margaret Jane was born in April of 1853. John was the second child and first son. He was named for his grandfather John Bedwell and his uncle Wiley Bedwell. Three years later in 1858 John's brother Nelson was born followed by a sister Nancy in 1860. Sometime between 1860 and 1868 Erasmus and Letty divorced and in Feb 1868 Erasmus remarried. Both Letty and Erasmus went on to have more children.
In total John may have had as many as fifteen siblings.After Erasmus left, Letty reverted to her maiden name of Adams and her children came to be known by that surname as well although when they did anything they deemed "official" such as marrying or transferring land they used their actual surname. All their children, however, used the name Adams and Bedwell was almost forgotten by later generations.
On March 8, 1879 John Wiley Bedwell (Adams) married Nancy Jane Cornett. His older sister Margaret Jane had Married Nancy Jane's brother John and his younger half sister Sarah Frances would later marry Nancy Jane's brother Granville. John's brother Nelson also married and raised a family.
John and Nancy moved to Camp Creek in Leslie county where they had seven children, sons Wilson, Marion and Nelson and daughters Juda, Letty, Louisa, and Martha. Nelson and Letty died in childhood. Louisa never married but Juda, Wilson Marion and Martha went on to have families of their own. In later life John divided his land between his two sons Marion and Wilson. The influenza epidemic of 1818-1819 touched John's family. Marion's wife Mary died leaving him alone with six children ages 10 to six months. Two young grandchildren also died. Then, in July 1922 John lost his wife Nancy. They had been married 43 years. She is buried at the Singleton Cemetery on Camp Creek in Leslie County, near where she and John spent their lives together.
After Nancy died, John lived with his sons. He soon began to develop what would certainly now be understood to be dementia or Alzheimer's disease. He became confused and would wander away. Two of Marion's young daughters,
Grace and Lelia who were about seven and five were given the task of watching their grandfather. The girls simply wandered with their grandpa and if he went past preset boundaries and they were unable to redirect him or if he was doing anything dangerous, one stayed with him while the other ran home for help. Grace remembered this not as a chore but as a very
special time with her sister and grandfather, who in the early years of the disease was gentle and told great stories.
But as time progressed, John became more confused and aggressive. He threatened the family and was very difficult to manage. His brother Nelson had, a few years before, gone through the same disease progression and at the advice of the Frontier Nursing Service he had been sent to Eastern State Hospital in Lexington. He had died and, it seems, was buried there. Wilson and Marion made the decision to send John to Eastern State as well thinking he could get care and supervision they could not give. John Wiley Adams went to Eastern State in early September of 1929. Within a matter of weeks, on September 25 he died. The family lacked resources to have the body brought back to Leslie County and accepted the offer to have John buried on the grounds of Eastern State. It was always assumed by his children and grandchildren that he was buried in a marked location, in a cemetery with some sort of record to find his grave. It was not until the 1990s when two of his great grandsons inquired separately that we learned that there was no record, that no on knows where John is buried.
John may not have a marked grave but he does have a legacy. It resides in the hundreds of descendents he left, mothers and fathers, lawyers and social workers, teachers and coal miners. Regular folks, cousins and family who are now scattered from Kentucky to Indiana to California and Canada and everywhere in between and who still remember John Wiley, not as a patient in a mental hospital but as a grandpa in old photographs and in family stories that endure across the years.
At the same time John and Nelson and all the other grandpas and grandmas, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters buried with them at Eastern State deserve the dignity of a marked and maintained memorial, not to their deaths but to their lives.
According to LDS record:
Erasmus Bedwell was born about 1827 Grayson Va-died September 25, 1880 in
Letcher Co Ky; his parents were John Bedwell and Martha Patsy Poole married
December 20, 1821 Grayson Co VA
In regard to mention of Nelson Bedwell-according to LDs record
he was born 1858 Ky son of Barnabus Bedwell b.1829 and Letty Adams born 1835.
Letty was the daugther of John Micajah Adams b. 1803 Wilkes Co NC-d. 1893
Letcher Co Ky and Elizabeth Mullins b.1810. John Micajah Adams was the son of href="http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=15209730">John Hobbs
Adams Jr and his second wife Lydia Simpson b.1771 Surry Co NC d.1845, Pine
Creek, Letcher Co Ky
Eastern State Hospital Cemetery
Created by: Teresa
Record added: Oct 05, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 30310401
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