When God Winks at You: How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence by Squire Rushnell is a book I haven’t read, but would like to. The idea of coincidence being a little wink from God is one of those concepts I find exceedingly comforting. At any rate – there’s a great story of coincidence in our very own family.
Samuel Scott Riffle, known to most (even his wife) as Mr. Riffle, had the kind of tough upbringing that was sadly quite common in the South after the Civil War.
His father died in the war before he was 7 years old. His mom remarried, had a daughter, we’re hoping that life was good for them all at this point, though they were in Mississippi and the war and reconstruction were really tough on folks in this area. His mom got pregnant again, Mr. Riffle was in his early teens at this point.
His stepfather (Mr. Murphy) died in an accident coming home from town, leaving Amanda, his pregnant widow, Josephine, his 5 year old daughter, and SS Riffle, his 13 year old stepson, to fend for themselves.
Mr. Riffle had either already gone off to work somewhere, or he did so after his stepfather died, we don’t know. All we do know is that he was, at the young age of 13 or 14 not at home with his mother when she had the baby. The baby, a boy, was either stillborn or died shortly thereafter. Amanda apparently lived for a short time, a week, a few months, we don’t know, but then she died as well.
Mr. Riffle couldn’t get across the Mississippi river to get home immediately(flooding season apparently), and by the time he did get home, his mom was buried, and his sister Josephine was gone to live with other family. We aren’t sure if he even knew where she was. He was completely on his own, it was 1870 and he was only 15.
He survived, thrived actually. Became a successful farmer, a father many times over, and eventually ended up in the great state of Texas.
But there must have been, always at the back of his mind, a desire to find his sister. To know if she had turned out ok, to find his own connections to his past.
Flash forward to 1901.
Mr. Riffle’s first wife, Sarah Josephine Faucett, had died leaving him with 6 children. He remarried (Mary Elizabeth Embry) and had one more child (my grandmother, Katie Alma Riffle).
While Miss Mary was pregnant with Katie, Mr. Riffle and his (former) father-in-law Andy Newt Faucett decided to go to a Civil War Veterans reunion, to see if there was any way for Mr. Riffle to find his family.
Another gentleman, Bartholomew Roach, had gone to this reunion on behalf of his wife, Josephine Murphy, to find her brother. Bat Roach asked a nearby gentleman if he knew Samuel Scott Riffle. The gentleman he asked was Andy Newt Faucett. God winked.
After that, the Roach and Riffle families stayed in touch. There was even a time that the Riffles stayed with the Roaches while their house was being built. Must have been a bit crowded – 7 Riffle children, 12 Roach children, 4 adults, and all the assorted farm animals.
Over the years we’ve lost touch with the Roach side of the family, perhaps we can reunite again someday. The facts remain however –
Terrible tragedy, extreme hardship, loss of family – survival and success in spite of it. As a descendant of this great man, I hope I can live up to his example.
Personally, I find so much inspiration in the story of Samuel Scott Riffle, he’s definitely one of the “dead ancestors” I’d love to meet.
Please share your stories!