By Ida Murhl Stemple Blessing (2013)

I am writing this article because I would like to pass on information about my father, James Ahab Stemple, my grandfather and grandmother, Ida Ester Fowler Stemple and George William Stemple, so that they will be a part of the Stemple family history.

As a young girl I didn't know any of my father's family with the exception of his brother Ray and his family and dad's aunt and uncle, Francena Fowler Nicholson and Bert Fowler.

Aunt Cene, as we called her, lived with us when I was very young. Uncle Bert visited us a couple of times a year. I knew dad had half brothers, but I didn't know them. My older brothers and sisters have memories of meeting some of them before I was born.

I had always been interested in knowing about my dad's family, but didn't begin my search until a few years ago.

By that time my father was deceased, so I asked my mother if she knew any of dad's family. Mom remembered a few names besides his father's name, Will Stemple. Among the names she related to me were his grandparents, Ahab and Mary Ardelia Carpenter Stemple and James and Susannah Grubb Fowler. Dad had told us he was raised in Calhoun County by his grandmother, Susannah and his mother's sister, Francina.

I began to search the Internet for records and found Ahab and Mary Stemple with children matching the names Mom had given me; Anise, Lloyd, Andrew and George William. I also found that Ahab and Mary had eleven children.

When I looked at the birth and death dates, I realized some of the children did not live to adulthood. So Mom wouldn't have known about them. Among the children that lived was a George William and knowing dad's father was Will, I believed this must be my family. I was excited about my new information and continued digging into the history of my family. Every piece of new information was like finding a small treasure.

My search led me to a Stemple Reunion in Aurora, West Virginia. I asked my sister, Johnny Wood, to go to Aurora with me to see what information we could find about our dad's family. She was more than willing. While we were there, we learned a lot about the Stemple heritage, and we met many Stemple relatives. Among the distant cousins we met were Marvin Stemple and his wife Peggy. They were surprised to meet granddaughters from George Williams' first family. As a matter of fact, no one seemed to have any knowledge of George's second son, James Ahab and very little about his eldest son, Leonard Ray.

Through Marvin and Peggy, Johhny and I learned about the Stemple Reunion in Calhoun County. We were anxious to meet more of our father's family, so we decided to attend that reunion the following year.

We found the same lack of knowledge about George's first family as in Preston County. It saddened me that there was no history about the first family. That is why I want to introduce George William's first family so they will be a part of the Stemple history.

George William Stemple, who for the rest of this article will be referred to as Will, married Ida Ester Fowler August 20, 1893. They had two sons, Leonard Ray born May 17, 1894 and James Ahab born April 1, 1896. Unfortunately, Ida Ester died July 1, 1896 at the young age of twenty, leaving Will with two boys.

I believe she died from complications of child birth after my dad was born. Uncle Ray was raised by his paternal grandparents, Ahab and Mary Ardelia Carpenter Stemple. My dad was raised by his maternal grandmother, Susannah Grubb Fowler.

I learned that after the death of Ida Ester, Will married Josie Shock, and they had five boys.

As I read The Hur Herald online, I learned more about the Stemple family, how they settled in Calhoun and other surrounding counties. Ahab and Mary Ardelia later moved to Harrison County to be near Leonard Ray, the grandson they had raised. No mention was made of the other grandson, James Ahab.

Leonard Ray married Ethel Wagner and they had 3 sons. One son, William Charles, died at an early age. Their other sons were, Carl Upton and Leonard Howard. Uncle Ray was an employee of the Hazel Atlas Glass Company for many years.

My dad, James Ahab, married Rosa Duskey. They had two sons, Howard Leon and Leonard Edwin. Rosa contracted tuberculosis and died. Dad was raising the boys with the help of his Aunt Cene. He then married Dessie Sanoma Linn, my mother, in January of 1932. Leon was 13 and Leonard was 7 when she became their stepmother.

Dad was a farmer and an old time Methodist preacher, but I only remember him being a carpenter contractor. He built many houses in Harrison County and the surrounding area.

James Ahab and Dessie had 11 children, 5 boys and 6 girls, which includes one set of twin boys. I am fifth from the youngest. Dad and Mom worked hard to support and care for our large family, but we were usually lacking some of the comforts that money could buy. My two half-brothers, Leon and Leonard, and one sister Nancy Ann Winters, are deceased.

Still living are; Clayton, Maxine, Mary, Victor, Wilda, myself, Johnny, Jimmy, Jerry, and Harold. Our family has grown to include over 40 grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, and many more great-great-grandchildren.

Dad died January 4, 1986 at the age of 89, and Mom died February 29, 2008 just 26 days short of being 100 years old.

I must mention, there were 26 leap year days in her lifetime. We have a family reunion every year at Watters Smith Memorial State Park in Quiet Dell, West Virginia on the first Saturday of July. My dad started this reunion. He had worked at the park putting in many of the improvements.

The attendance has dropped from more then 100 adults and children to about 60 or 70 since the passing of our mother. We will continue this tradition as long as we can travel, and hope the grandchildren and great-grandchildren will keep it going after we are gone.