Valley Falls couple finds ancestors were neighbors in late 1700s

Frank and Edith ShrimplinFrank and Edith Shrimplin discovered in researching their history that their families five generations back resided in the same county in Pennsylvania during the Washington presidency. Frank is holding a framed copy of the “taxable inhabitants” of the county listing their ancestors.

Story and photo by Clarke Davis

In 1793 there was a man by the name of John Shrimplin living and farming in Bedford County, Pa. This is rugged country and on the other side of a mountain but still in the same county lived George Ice, a man who also farmed and whose family operated the Ice ferry to cross Cheat River.

We now leave the first year of George Washington’s second term as president to visit Elm Street in Lawrence, Kansas, about 150 years later.

On this street lives Frank Shrimplin, a boy who has moved off the farm near McLouth in 1942 to attend high school in Lawrence. Two doors down the block lives Edith Ice, a girl two years younger who loves to ride bicycles but doesn’t have one.

Frank has a bicycle, an absolute necessity to carry out his duties delivering medicine throughout the city for Garich’s Prescription Shop. The job is part of the Victory Program, filling in for someone who has left to fight in the war.

Whenever Frank does not need his bicycle, usually only on Sunday afternoon, the wheels are kept spinning by this neighbor girl.

Frank and Edith will marry one day, but first Frank has to go to war and then college. Edith, too, has to finish school and begin her career. And then one day after they have a family and a business and Frank has become a genealogist, he will find in a dank and moldy room in the basement of the Bedford County, Pa., courthouse a record of the “taxable inhabitants” of Londonberry Township.

Among that list of names is John Shrimplin, Frank’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, and George Ice, Edith’s great-great-great-great-grandfather.

Over the years the Valley Falls couple has tried to gather as much information as they can about their ancestors. Frank can unfurl a scroll showing the Shrimplin family tree in England going back 20 generations to 1060.

The spelling of the family name changes somewhat, but the current form with the letter ‘r’ shows up 13 generations after 1060. And then before the tree branches run out there is a John Shrimplin, Frank’s grandfather four greats back.

He arrived in the colonies in 1749, 27 years before the start of the revolution. According to Frank’s research, he was sent here on the invitation of the king for misdeeds. It appears his crime was stealing some pewter items from a home.

He arrived on a ship named The Thames. Upon arrival he became an indentured servant, sold to a Maryland tobacco plantation for a period of seven years to pay the ship’s captain, James Dobbins, for his transportation.

By 1757 John Shrimplin has become a landowner in Maryland and has a wife, Honour. His name appears on a petition to move the county seat to Baltimore. It’s believed they moved to Pennsylvania in the 1770s, but the only proof is the list of taxpayers dated 1793, which also contains the name of John Shrimplin Jr.

Less is known about George Ice and how he came to be in Bedford County, but a notation in George Washington’s diary is treasured by the family.

The diary records in Sept. 25, 1784, that Washington visited the area the previous day where the Ice family lived. The date would be after the war ended but three years before the constitutional convention was held and five years before the general would become president.

Washington was there to explore the possibility of building canals to connect the Potomac River to the Cheat River. Mr. Ice’s response to the general was something of this sort, “Not you or any other man could do such a thing.”

Relation to George Ice was operating a ferry on the river when Washington paid the visit.

Edith’s grandfathers in descending order after George were Abraham Ice, Thomas Ice Sr., Thomas Ice Jr., and William Thomas Ice. Her father was John Thomas Ice born in 1896.

On Frank’s side after John came William Shrimplin, John Shrimplin, John Wesley Shrimplin, and Marion Shrimplin. His father’s name was George Shrimplin born in 1892.

Frank would enter the Navy Reserve upon graduation from high school and was in basic training in San Diego when the war ended.

“I always told my grandkids the Japanese saw me coming,” he said.

He soon boarded the U.S.S. M.L. Hersey and headed for Japan. The lead ship hit a mine and the guns on his ship were once put to work destroying another mine, but that’s all the hot action he saw. He was a member of the gyro group, the device that provides stabilization and maneuverability to a ship.

Upon his return home he entered Kansas University’s School of Pharmacy.

Edith’s parents would never buy her a bicycle, so after Frank left she would walk 23 blocks to the home of an aunt whose neighbor girl would loan her a bicycle she could ride. Frank’s bike, by the way, had gone to a younger brother.

Edith recalls riding all over town as far south as Iowa Street, which was gravel at the time. Then she would return the bike and walk all the way back home. Her parents never did buy her a bike, but they bought one for her younger sister after Edith left home.

After graduation Edith received secretarial training and went to work for Standard Life Insurance Co. She was a member of a sorority of professional women in the work field and she needed a date for a square dance her group was sponsoring. One fellow had turned her down and then one day, on the street, she saw Frank again.

He said he didn’t know how to square dance, but he accepted the date that ultimately sparked a romance.

Dating, they said, was difficult. Frank didn’t get off work till 10 p.m. and they had to walk everywhere they went. Cramming for a pharmaceutical degree also took a lot of study.

Frank became the sundry manager for Crown Drug where he earned 50 cents an hour. He left there to be a clerk for the Round Corner Drug for a quarter raise and used his wages and the G.I. Bill to get his education. Edith changed jobs, working as a secretary for the head of the architectural school at KU.

They became engaged in 1949 and were married in 1950 when Frank completed his degree.

He did not know how to drive, but he took his first job at a Junction City pharmacy. He didn’t know how to swim when he entered the Navy and he didn’t know how to square dance on his first date with Edith, but he always managed nevertheless.

He later became the head pharmacist at Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka from 1954 until 1963 when the couple purchased the corner drug store from Gene Lallier in Valley Falls where they have spent the rest of their lives. Frank retired in 1997.

The couple raised three children and have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. That would be three more generations removed from John Shrimplin and George Ice, something like great, great, great, great, great, never mind.

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Posted by on Apr 23 2011. Filed under Featured, The Vindicator. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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