William Levi Outten
Family history of William Levi Outten,
by his grand daughter Mrs. Rene Miller Outten Swink.
It has been kindly requested of me to write a brief sketch of my immediate family, which give me great pleasure in so doing. Beginning with my grand father, William Levi Outten, son of Mathias Outten, born and raised in the town of Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky. A man of wealth, stamina and of fine character, owning hundreds of acres of land in the Bluegrass Region, the Counties of Fayette of Scott and of Clark. Living on a large Plantation, the owner of 200 slaves who idolised him because he was kind, Tolerant and very patient with the negroes. He was their Massa, taking good care of them, that all were clothed, fed and shod.
Butchering beef, pork, lamb and veal every two weeks. They lived in cabins scattered over the Plantation, and were very happy. When Grand father passed away, they stayed on with my Grand mother, some were quire old and some too had died. There was a burial ground on the place.
Three children were born of this union. First John William, second Mathias G. and third Fannie Lee (Levi) Outten. All three of these children were born in Lexington, Kentucky, and all three were educated in private schools. There was always plenty of beef on the plate, and in the home each child as they grew older had their own saddle horse, a horse and buggy and each their darky to take care of the horses and hitch up whenever wanted.
Grand mother had her carriage drawn by a span of fine Kentucky black horses, slick as a ribbon driven by a coachman, Grand father had a fine saddle horse. The only daughter remained at home as was the custom in those days. The two sons were dealers in fine live stock and breeders of such. Their Company was known in business and J.W. & M.G. Outten Brothers, Dealers in Coal, Feed & Grain. They lived in Lexington, Ky. They married later.
Many guests on Sunday were always expected home. Cakes, beaten biscuits and such were baked all day Saturday. Fried chicken Sunday morning. My mouth waters at the thoughts of all those Southern goodies on the William Lee Outten Plantation.
Three children were born to Mathias G. Outten and Lillian Miller Outten. Emma Lee, Rene Miller and Norman Bernard (deceased in 1910). All born in Lexington, Ky. and all attended private school and college. I remember driving the pony Lou and cart to school.
Many of the slaves lived with my father and Aunt Fannie Outten Karsner. Some were very old, but dear to us after the death of Grand mother Outten. We children were respectful to all the old slaves, calling them Aunt and Uncle. Their clothes were home made, and when too old to wear leather shoes the family made shoes from felt with carpet bottoms for them. The whole family buried the slaves. I so well remember the death of Aunt Margie, at the age of 104 years. There was Aunt Jane, Aunt Mona, Aunt Ellen, Cassie Miller and many others. We loved Uncle Tom too, his face had pox scars, and we would try to pick them off. All our family attended the slaves funerals, sitting in the white folks section at the rear, but we children sat on the front bench, the closer to the casket the better we felt, and we cried so hard.
We were permitted to go out to the kitchen helps cabin after the evening meal, it being close to the house. There was a large open fare place 4 x 3 feet, a high mantle on which was the old chan chang clock. We sat by the fire light listening to ghost stories and true Indian stories. While in the ashes were baking apples, potatoes, eggs and chestnuts, then we popped corn and after we had eaten, they took us back to the big house as they called it. We were not allowed to go alone.
Never will the Outten-Karsner Cousins ever forget the fun we had at my Aunt Fannie Outten Karsner farm home, the adjoining place. There were enough of us, we needed no other children, nor did we want them. When the old ice house was empty we lined in a row running to the ice house door, and jumping down in the wet straw 14 feet deep. Then climbing up the ladder from the pit in a line again and jumping down in again a hundred times. Then over to the old tread mill all piling in to run it. Out to the myskmelon patch, not making any difference how hot the melons were lying in the sun. Tomatoes right off the vine too. Wading in the seed wheat was very much forbidden, however we always seemed to be tempted to wade in the cool wheat seed in our bare feet it was all so much fun. An old slave Uncle Jerry caught us each one with a cigarette made of leaves, we begged him not to tell on us, we were afraid but he never did.
The children in the county always had so much more fun than the unfortunate ones in town, but on Sunday we always went to Sunday school in town. Every Sunday we had chicken and a big freezer of ice cream, and every Sunday eve we ate watermelon in the yard during the summer. What a wonderful childhood. I could go on and on with different stories about times when our families were invited to spend the day with each other, which meant so much to us, this happening all through the years.
On Christmas Eve and night we had fire crackers, Roman candles and all that is used on the 4th of July elsewhere, beautiful with snow on the ground. All of my fore fathers, it seems lived on large farms and were prosperous. We agree that is the only place to live, as in later years things were made modern, up to the latest gadget just as farming implements improved.
The whole Outten family born in Lexington, Ky. loved horse racing, and never had to be begged to attend races at any time that I remember in my life, and still like to go. I am not telling how much has been lost, but enough I suppose, with pleasant winning too. Its in our blood we get it honest, and each coming generation will find the same as we have.
This brings the history up to the later years of my parents, who lived to celebrate their Golden Wedding, July 22, 1929, both living on the 56th year of their married life, a devoted couple, and they passed away while still living on a large country place. Both at the age of 80 years. My sister Emma and I owned our homes so the farm was sold after four generations had lived there.
I have three children and my sister has one son. Both my sons served in the Second World War. Ray Vernon and William Mathias Swink. My daughter Jeanne Swink, married John Calvin Slade. We are members of Trinity Episcopal church. So ends the William Levi Outten history.
By Rene Outten Swink,
8420 Burns Ave.
Cincinnati 15, Ohio
Sept. 27, 1946
Converted to Hypertext by Karen Stephens