ES Independent Column – Alex Weems

Alex Weems was born a farm boy in the green hills of east Tennessee. During the Civil War, he lied about his age and joined the Union Army at 14 years old. His cavalry unit was embroiled in three years of combat in several different states. Records indicate that Alex’s lifetime of poor health was linked to his time in the army. After the war, he returned to farming and married his sweetheart Margarett. Times were hard in Tennessee, so the family moved ┬áseveral times, ending up in Salem, Kansas near the Nebraska border.

The harsh winter weather on the plains was difficult for Alex. The Weems family lived there when the Great Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888 hit. The storm was especially destructive because the weather had been mild and many were caught unprepared. It is reported that hundreds became lost in whiteout conditions and froze to death, including many children who had been released from school just as the blizzard hit.

At the age of 42, Alex was declared an invalid by the War Department. Life continued though and not for the best. Alex and Margarett’s oldest son James died and was buried at Salem.

More than ready to leave this area of Kansas that had held so much difficulty, Alex got a break. A man by the name of Horton traveling through the area stopped and met Alex Weems and they got to talking. The man had an 80 acre farm on Keels Creek in Carroll County, Arkansas. The Ozarks must have sounded like the hills of Alex’s childhood. He traded his farm in Kansas for the farm near Eureka Springs sight unseen.

Alex and Margarett and their eight children travelled to Arkansas and settled into life on Keels Creek. Two more children were added to the crowded household and the older ones attended the Concord School. They later married into local families. Alex sold the farm to France Johnson in 1911 and the family moved to town. Alex and Margarett are buried in the Eureka Springs Cemetery.