By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“Every day holds the possibility of a miracle.”  Anonymous

Brothers Eugene Roe and Kenneth David Roe. This undated photo was most likely taken within a year of the time that the events in the following story took place.


His name was Kenneth David Roe. I called him Uncle Bud.  When he was a young boy, he almost drowned in some high water that flowed under a bridge near Chatham Mississippi.  Some of my relatives say it was a stroke of luck that he was found alive, others say that it was a miracle that he survived.

I’ve only heard the story in bits and pieces. It seems that everyone who was there had their own vivid memory to share. Except Uncle Bud. To my knowledge he never spoke of the day.

I’ve not heard anyone say why he was in the water that day. Did he fall off the bridge?  Did he jump in? Did someone push him?  I really cant tell you.

 My Uncle Frank said that he was pretty sure it happened in Lake Washington, a body of water that exists near the Ferguson Place where the family lived and worked.

 As far as I know, my mother is the only person still living who witnessed the search and rescue. She recalls standing on the bridge. She says that the water was higher than usual that day, that it almost reached the bottom of the bridge.

 Uncle Frank remembered seeing my grandmother run alongside the water and up on the bridge. He said “she was crying and hollering” while family, friends  and neighbors poked the water with long sticks, trying to find her son.

 My grandmother said that he was under water for a very long time before someone found him.

I never heard tell of who it was who rescued him.  But someone found him and drug him out of the water.

My grandmother recalled that after he was pulled out of the water someone in the search party pushed on his chest to get the water out of his lungs.

Uncle Frank never forgot the sight of seeing his brother laying on his side while muddy water spewed out of his mouth.

 No one alive today can say for sure what day, month or year that my uncle almost drowned. But the wonder of it all is that he lived to see another day and that the God-given outcome of was a good one.  

His survival ensured the  preservation of the Roe family unit.  For if Uncle Bud had died in those dark muddy waters there would have always been an empty seat at my grandmother’s table and the course of the  Roe family would have been changed forever.  


Lake Washington is part of the Mississippi. It is a large bend in the river that is cut off on one side by land.  It is a U shaped body of free standing water that resembles a lake.

The Ferguson Place was a cotton farm where my Henry David Roe, Ruby Isaacs Roe and their two oldest sons Eugen Roe and Kenneth David Roe, along with twins Herman Frank Roe, and Nannie Elizabeth Roe, lived and worked. They entire family worked in the fields. Even the twins who were about five or six years old at that time.

#52anscestors #52Ancestorsin52Weeks



6 thoughts on “Luck

  1. I remember that day it was horrifying for all of us for my brother Buddy – that is what we called him then- to be under that big body of water. I remember him on the bridge on his stomach and someone pushing on his back and blood running our of his nose. My belief is that he blocked that event from his memory forever. I believe our family never talked of that in front of him and hardly among ourselves. A vague memory I have is Daddy was taking him home from hospital and someone said to Daddy that he had heard that one of his sons drowned and Buddy said did Gene drown? Don’t know what Daddy said.


  2. I grew up near Chatham. My mama never let me and my brothers go down to the river to swim, because she said too many children have drowned down there in the river. Your uncle was really lucky to get found. This was a good story to read and I certainly like the picture of the two boys. They look like pictures I have of of my daddy and his brother and the field looks like a field that was across the road from the house we used to live in. #hardtimemississippi

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Molly Lynn thank you for sharing your memory of your childhood in Chatham, Mississippi. As a child I remember my mama not allowing us to play in the rivers and waters because of the polio epidemic and also the snakes. I wish I knew why my brother was in that water. I was born in Holly Bluff May 31,1937 and I believe we left there for Greenville 1945-early 1946 and migrated to Oregon in 1946. Another note: I recently read an article in my local newspaper, The Register-Guard about the polio epidemic about how survivors interviewed are comparing it to what we are going through now with the COVID-19 pandemic right now. And thankfully Jonas Salk discovered the vaccine in 1955 and that virus is mostly eradicated from the world now!


  4. I never heard before that you could get Polio in river water, but I have heard about snakes being in the river. I totally forgot all about that, but there were supposed to lots of big snakes in the water. These are scary times with the virus. I hope someone finds a vaccine for it. How old were you when you left Mississippi? I was 14.


    1. I was nine years old when we moved to Oregon. Where did your family go to from Mississippi? Yes this is such a scary time for the whole world. You know President Roosevelt contacted polio at their summer home Campobello on New Brunswick after being in the water – I watched that old movie – Sunrise at Campobello- again last evening because of all the concern of COVID-19 and the comparison to the coronavirus – I think I enjoyed watching it as much last evening as I did years ago. I pray every day for a vaccine! Stay safe and healthy and stay in your home. I am staying and missing my family and friends.


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