Part Three: Swimming In The Gene Pool
There have been Carrikers in America since before the American Revolution. The roots of the Carriker family tree are rooted in soil that is solidly German and they reach all the way back to the Black Forest region of Germany, which was once called “The Palatinate.” The original American Carriker was George Kaercher, a name that is comprised of guttural sounds that were soon changed to “Carriker,” a ethnically neutral name that says nothing about the origins of the people that bear it. This was likely because George’s neighbors and non-germanic citizens just couldn’t bring that sound up through their throats. George served honorably in the Continental Army and when all the dust settled after England was defeated he (and probably many other) veterans was awarded a homestead in North Carolina.
But like most Americans who trace ancestry in this country back numerous generations, Rudy’s genes were a soup of German, English, Irish and perhaps some unknowns. Although the roots on Rudy’s mother’s side, the “Beavers,” were almost as deep in history, they also traced back to Pre-Revolutionary War years, they were sunk in the soil of England, Ireland and Scotland. Like the Kaercher/Carrikers, the original Beavers settled first in North Carolina but before long some of them joined the westward movement. They stopped for three generations around Tuscaloosa, Alabama then some moved even farther west, settling around Clinton Arkansas. Clearly the cultural background from which Rudy sprang was Southern American. Whether “Carrikers” or “Beavers,” they were simple citizens, undistinguished in any way.
Ultimately James “Jim” William Beavers, Rudy's maternal grandfather. was born near Tuscaloosa Alabama in 1872, where there were several other members of the "Beavers" clan. But his parents moved to Clinton, Arkansas when he was around ten years old and in due time he met and married Mary Isabelle “Belle” McNabb. She was an Arkansas native who was born in Scotland, Arkansas in 1875. Jim was a complex man with enough idiosyncrasies to supply a dozen men. He was a musically talented young man who played drums and cornet in the Clinton Town Band. An avocation that Belle, true to her Scotch-Irish “If it’s fun it’s probably sinful” Pentecostal temperament, squelched.
Sometime later Jim and Belle moved into the Arkansas backwoods near the tiny settlement of “Figure 5, Arkansas where Jim began supporting his growing family by raising and selling cotton, watermelons, cantaloupe and corn. The closest "market" for his produce was Ft. Smith, AR. The hereditary disease of “Acute Intermittent Porphyria” which produces definite symptoms of mental aberrations when its sufferers are in its throes seems to have tortured Jim although he was never formally diagnosed.
Perhaps symptomatic of his disease, he was notable for doing such bizarre things as loading his children into the horse-drawn wagon to accompany him on a seldom-taken ten-mile trip to the town of Van Buren or Ft. Smith. Then after getting part way there he would declare “Oh hell, chaps, let’s don’t go,” after which he would turn the wagon around and return home. On occasions when they made it to Ft. Smith it was not unusual for him to park the wagon and tell his children, “You chaps stay here” while he went shopping by himself. On those shopping trips, it was not atypical for him to buy an entire bolt of gingham or other fabric that was cheap and bring it home so that Belle could make dresses and shirts for all ten of their children.
Belle was also apparently a tortured soul but not from any kind of disease or affliction. She was raised by a prototype of “the wicked step-mother.” Possibly the misery she endured at the hands of her step-mother made her into the mean-spirited, unhappy person she seemed to be throughout her long life. Whatever the reason she was never the gushing, hug-my-little-grandkids grandma to which grandkids cling.
Rudy’s paternal ancestors, after first settling in North Carolina also drifted westerly. His immediate ancestors settled in Linn County MO where “Martin Wilson (Wilce) Carriker and “Barthena Gowin Elliott” met, married, and produced “Arthur Benton “Bent” Carriker," Rudy's paternal grandfather, in 1870. Meanwhile, a few years later, John Henry Lacer found and married “Louiza Frances Brumfield” and in 1880, gave the world “Leva Mae “Lib” Lacer. Lib was an attractive, wasp-waisted beauty who would turn heads even today.
Bent was a laid-back, soft-spoken man of few words with a dry wit. He played the “fiddle” by ear, was quite good at it and loved playing for square dances. Being ten years older than Lib, who was only fifteen when she exchanged vows with Bent, it is safe to say that Bent must have had an engaging personality for she must surely have had other suitors closer to her age. After fathering three children; including Rudy’s dad, another boy, and a girl, who died at 15 from “female problems,” he left Missouri to try life as a “settler” in the barren, desolate plains of the panhandle in “Oklahoma Territory.” Their home was a Sod House in which Lib had to hang sheets beneath the sod roof to prevent spiders, scorpions and other unwanted creatures from dropping down into their beds. After enduring the wind, isolation, and hardscrabble existence of a homesteader for a few years Bent concluded that his destiny did not lie in the life of a “sod buster.”
In a wondrous display of mutual faith in their fellow man, he and a man in Missouri traded real estate, sight unseen, with one another. Bent moved his family to a little “farm” near Alpena Pass (now simply called Alpena), Arkansas, a move Rudy’s dad always characterized as moving from a sandbox to a rock pile.
Bent got his family settled into their Ozark home and kept his “Lib busy producing and caring for children while he tried to make a living “hacking ties” for the railroad and periodically leaving to go work in the oilfields of Oklahoma and Texas.
And that was the gene pool into which God dipped to create “Raymond Rudolph “Rudy” Carriker in 1921.