“It’s okay to not be okay all the time.” ~ Unknown
It’s not just that I have ancestors buried at South Fork in Malone, it’s also that the land surrounding the hillside cemetery used to belong to my great, great grandparents, Patrick H. and Rebecca Patrick Risner. I talked about them just last year. Their house sat near the curve at the far end of the straight stretch in the photo below. None of those other buildings existed then. It was all farmland and the railroad would have still been running. The house remained standing until sometime in the 1990’s (I think). The Risner’s came to Malone from Magoffin County around 1900 and settled this large stretch of land. One of their four daughters, Minnie, married Douglas Adams. They were my great grandparents. Their house sat very close to the basketball goal in the photo above. I don’t remember that house at all and they both died before I was born. Another daughter, Ada, married Elbert Sparks, and they lived in a house where the white house now sits in the photo above. Unlike my great-grandmother, I knew Ada very well, except I called her Nannie. No one knows why. She taught me to play piano and baked the best apple pies you ever tasted and heated her house with coal and kept my ponies in her barn. She and Elbert never had children, and he died a fairly young man. She didn’t remarry and remained in the house until long after she should have. She died in 1984 at age 86. Her house and property was sold in the 1990’s as well. It was torn down, along with her barn, her garden, and the maple trees along the road, and replaced with the house sitting there now. The valley saw a lot of change in less than 100 years as the Risner’s came and went.
Sitting opposite Nannie’s house is Larry and Ella Ray Evans’ home place. Larry’s parents are buried right behind my grandparents in the South Fork Cemetery (you can see their headstone in a photo from yesterday’s post). I grew up with Larry and Ella Ray’s two sons Larry Scott and Barry. Larry Scott and I are the same age. We’re also really good friends, and have been since before we started first grade together. Facebook has allowed us to stay in near-daily contact with each other, but even before social media, we somehow managed to keep up with one another as we both travelled the world then settled in different states. Even now, I can almost see the huge paper maché Statue of Liberty Larry Scott built beside their house. It was probably 8-9 feet tall. He was always gifted and he was always kind. He helped Nannie a lot when she got too old to do some things for herself. One of my favorite Larry stories was the time a bunch of us high schoolers went to the cemetery at night for a seance by the now dead tree. I think Larry conducted it, not that he could ever get a bunch of high school kids to cooperate, but he tried. He’s nothing if not patient. Despite his best efforts, we didn’t see the dead, talk to the dead, or even hear a hoot owl as I recall, but we had a lot of laughs and some good clean fun. I’ve got more stories about Larry than I’ve got time to write, but suffice it to say, he is an integral part of my life. I am more thankful for him than I can say.