Monday, September 29, 2008

Rosenbalm Origins & Resources

David Rosenbalm and his wife Elizabeth were living near Tazwell, Tennessee in 1860, but by 1870, they had disappeared from the records and are presumed to have died by then.

*Much of the Rosenbalm history was shared with me in 1977 by Mildred Garvey (daughter of Mary Hopson Majars and granddaughter of Jesse Hamilton Hopson) of Redondo Beach, California, and can be found in Clifford R. Canfield's book, The Rosenbaum-Rosenbalm Family of Southwest Virginian, which is 726 pages long and about the size of a large Sears catalog!) The name Rosenbaum is of German origin and means "rose tree." The Rosenbaums were a German Lutheran family that arrived in America as early as 1710. In 1660, the Rosenbaum name was entered into the records of the Lutheran church in Westphalia, Germany. There are also many Rosenbaums of the Jewish faith from Central Europe living in the U. S., but that is a different line. Rosenbaums (of various spellings) settled in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Southwest Virginia, and have scattered across the nation, but our particular line can be directly traced to Anthony Rosenbaum, who lived in Pennsylvania in the early 1700s.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rosenbalms at Damascus, VA

Mamaw Kitts' father was William Harrell Hopson. William’s mother, Eliza Jane, was born on December 17, 1833, in Claiborne County, Tennessee, to Elizabeth (Harrell) and David Rosenbalm. Elizabeth Harrell was born March 10, 1811, in Tennessee, to Polly (Hopson) and Drewy Harrell.

Mamaw's great-grandfather David Rosenbalm was born in Washington County, Virginia, to Catherine (Stubblefield?) and George Rosenbalm (Rosenbaum). Elizabeth and David were married on February 2, 1832, in Claiborne County, where they lived and farmed. In February 1834, David returned to Washington County, Virginia, where he sold to his Uncle Valentine Rosenbalm his interest in his father George Rosenbalm’s part of his grandfather John Rosenbalm’s estate near Damascus, Virginia.

Since I now live nearer to Damascus, I think more about that particular family line on a regular basis. If you haven't ridden the Virginia Creeper bike trail there, I encourage you to do so and enjoy the glorious beauty of the area. It's a 17 mile coast DOWNHILL from White Top Mountain on what was once a railroad route. I promise! It really doesn't require much pedaling, and it crosses lots of wonderful trestles and bridges zig-zagging the creek (pictured). I can't help but wonder whether the Rosenbalms were in the vicinity when men from the surrounding area were called to arms for the Battle of King's Mountain.

John Rosenbalm had died on June 18, 1821, but because he had not left a will, his estate was not finally settled until about 1826. Catherine and two of John, Sr.’s other sons, Jacob and John, were the administrators. I have a copy of the estate inventory, which is three pages long and lists every tool, basket, utensil, head of livestock, piece of furniture, etc. and its individual worth! David’s father George apparently died young in about 1815 or 1816, and David’s mother Catherine remarried to a James Mountain. David and his brother John shared in their father George’s portion of their grandfather John Rosenbalm’s 1826 estate, along with George’s five other brothers and three sisters.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Revolutionary War: The Battle of King's Mountain

As the Revolutionary War was fought, the people of our area played an important role in helping to turn the tide toward freedom so that our family lines could enjoy their pursuits of independence. Colonel Ferguson of the British army became frustrated with the havoc being caused by the renegade Overmountain Men and sent word that if they didn't lay down their arms and cease their actions, he would cross the mountain himself and hang their leaders and ruin their lands. Well, that was the wrong thing to say to those strong-willed men who were determined to have victory. In short, the frontier farmers and woodsmen living over the mountain pulled together and marched to King's Mountain to defeat Ferguson and his men!

I've had the pleasure on Thursday and Friday this week to watch the present day Overmountain Victory Trail Association (OVTA) members, shown here, re-enact and retell the story of that march and victory during their annual trek along the original trail taken to King's Mountain. They provide demonstrations and presentations for schools and civic groups along the way. What a wonderful celebration of history and a gallant effort to preserve the details of this important heritage! For more information about the OVTA, visit their website.

Participating in that battle that was a turning point of the Revolutionary War were men by the names of Breden, Collins, Harrell, Webb, and Williams, names from our family lines. Were those any of our ancestors represented there? I hope to find out!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Walnut Grove Lovedays

Among the Lovedays buried at the Walnut Grove cemetery are Civil War veterans Perry and Tennessee, who both served in the Union Army in Company D, 2nd Tennessee Cavalry. Their father Henry, son of Edward, served in the War of 1812.

Perry, born May 14, 1834, enlisted at age 29 in Sevierville for three years. His enlistment papers show him as 6 ft. tall with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. Perry married Angelina McMahan, daughter of Redmon and Rebecca McMahan, in about 1853, and they had at least 7 children. He died on May 16 1867.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Edward Loveday, Sevier County Progenitor

Before the Ogles and Huskeys settled in what would become White Oak Flats, the Lovedays were already settled in Tennessee before 1800. Edward Loveday, who was born in Maryland, brought his family south of the French Broad River to live along the East Fork of the Little Pigeon River. Later post office addresses for him and his sons include Fairgarden and Harrisburg, near Walnut Grove and Flat Creek.

Land in the 4th district of the French Broad and Holston surveyed on June 12, 1807 (land grant #898, November 23, 1809) for Edward Loveday was 39 acres with a road for $39.30. The grant was signed by Governor Willie Blount's authority on May 12, 1810. At least some of Edward's land adjoined that of George Manning and Nathan Layman. Other neighbors included Foxes, Pattersons, Staffords, and Birds, as well as his sons Henry and Robert. At least an additional 25 acres was surveyed on May 2, 1832 and was granted on September 29, 1837.

Bethel Baptist Church (above) on Jones Cove road was established around 1801 and is one of the oldest churches in Sevier County. Church records show that several Lovedays attended there in the 1850s, and in 1875, 20 men and women agreed to go from Bethel to establish a church at Walnut Grove. Edward's grandson Ira Loveday, son of Henry, was among the first three deacons at the new Walnut Grove Baptist Church. More than 80 Lovedays are buried in the Walnut Grove cemetery.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How They Met: My Kitts Grandparents

Soon after my grandmother Margaret Jane Hopson's family moved back near Washburn, TN, she caught the eye of George Washington Kitts one day as he was fulfilling the civic duty that each man had of taking his turn repairing the roads. He took one look at her and declared that she would be his wife some day! He came by her home one day, along with a young man who worked for her father on the farm, and the whippoorwills sang all night, but her parents had no idea then that George was interested in their daughter!

Papaw was born October 5, 1894, in Powder Springs, Grainger County, Tennessee, in an area Mamaw said was known as Dutch Valley. His mother, Nellie Loucinda (Collins) Kitts, was ill and passed away when he was young, so he was raised by the doctor who delivered him, Dr. Atkins, and his wife. They lived next door. For whatever reason, Mamaw's parents really didn't want her to be seeing that Kitts boy, so she secretly carried his photo in her "bosom" (see the worn crease in the photo) and eventually sneaked a few dresses out of the house before they eloped one Saturday, May 13, 1916, after a morning church service and were married at the home of the Reverend Phillips in Powder Springs. Ernest and Ula Needham were their witnesses. (These details came from Mamaw's Bible.) Mamaw knew she was supposed to be 16 to get married without the consent of her parents and her birthday was still a few weeks away, so she wrote the number 16 on a slip of paper, placed it in her shoe, and told the minister that she was "over 16!" She and Papaw returned to visit her parents home that night, where "they didn't throw a fit or nothin'."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Speaking of Unique History: Melungeon Roots

I never knew my mother to do any creative writing, but I found a few note pages she wrote with the following story, which is obviously based on her personal memories and questions:

"As she drove up the narrow valley road, the blue, blue sky enhanced the floating cotton puffs of clouds as they drifted over the mountain to her right. The mountain, Clinch by name, stretched out as far as she could see in either direction. A spiral of smoke drifted up above the ridge a distance in front of her. Shortly, a train came into view on the tracks that paralleled the road. Her mind wandered back to her childhood when the engineer gave a toot on the whistle and waved to her and her brothers and sister. They often played in the strip of land between the road and the railroad tracks in front of their home, romping in the lush green grass and clover. Smiling to herself, she wondered how far along the track the chains of clover she and her brother and sister made would stretch. Would they stretch from the little town or hamlet that nestled on the valley floor, practically at the foot of the mountains, to the little community of Powder Springs (She mused, "Wonder where the name came from?") on further up the valley, and also nestled at the base of the mountain, where her paternal grandfather lived in a little three room cabin? Reveling in thoughts of those long, gone days, she could still see her grandfather, sitting outside the cabin, his twine-bottomed chair against the wall, strumming on his banjo. She remembered he always, even in summer, wore a hat. Wishing she had a photo of that scene, she dwelt on the image, visioning clearly the white mustache, flowing white beard, the suspendered pants, and crumpled shirt. He lived there with three grown sons until they married, then he was alone. Her mother always cooked a big dinner for them as they spent a Sunday with her grandfather. Grandpa, as he was lovingly called, would go out to the smoke house and cut a big hunk out of a home-cured ham. The thoughts of the delicious, tasty, ham made her mouth water. Then she was brought back to reality, a constriction in her throat. Yearning to know more about her ancestry, she wa heading to the courthouse of a county across the mountains. Not too far, as the crow flies, from the county seat lived the Melungeons -- those tall, dark-skinned mysterious people. There were many theories as to their origin. She was sure they were her people. Her dad was tall and dark-skinned, high cheek-boned and his mother was of a family same as one of the Melungeons. The name went back as far as anyone knew or heard."

Because I had begun my research focused on my father's line and never seemed to finish, it was many years before I began to work on her family line. Fortunately, others I encountered had researched her Collins ancestry. And yes, my grandfather Kitts' mother, a Collins, descends from the Melungeons! Pictured here is my mother's father, George Washington Kitts, described above.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cherokee blood

Many families that are native to the Sevier County area claim some tie to the Cherokees. Although physical features may certainly seem as evidence, determining the actual family link may be very difficult. Even with my green eyes and light brown hair, I've been told by more than one dentist that my front teeth seem to indicate a Native American gene or two, because they are "shovel shaped," cupped with a ridge at the upper inside. Other cousins have distinctive cheek bones, and some family members are very dark skinned. I've heard the Cherokee lore about more than one of my family lines, but who can prove anything?

Most individuals from older generations were very reluctant to speak about their Cherokee ancestry, simply because of the former stigma and the Trail of Tears experience that killed so many in the relocation to reservations. Those who wanted to stay in the mountains made every effort to be inconspicuous, explaining their dark skin as being a "Black Dutch" characteristic. However, no one is even certain what that is supposed to mean. Who are the Black Dutch?

In this day, those of us who feel a connection to the Cherokee spirit and roots are left to only imagine how we inherited it, but some of us take it pretty seriously. Pictured at top in a Cherokee ribbon shirt is my cousin George Brooks, who diligently seeks to learn more about the Cherokee ways and to celebrate them. Below is the back of his wife Gail, whose dress illustrates the sheathed knife typically worn by the women. If anyone can identify the Cherokee link in any of our family lines, we would like to know it!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gatlinburg's first settlers

Wiley Oakley's mother, Elmina Conner, was a great granddaughter of Gatlinburg's first settler, Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, whose cabin is pictured here next to the Arrowcraft shop. Oral history tells that Martha's husband William came to the area as a hunter and trader with the Cherokee and fell in love with the beauty of what would become known as White Oak Flats. He felled the trees for a log home and returned to South Carolina to prepare to move his family. While storing up food for the coming year of travel and settling the new home, he became ill with a fever and died.

Martha and their seven children traveled with her brother and his family to Virginia to deliver the news of William's death to his family there, then came to build the cabin from the cured logs that William had cut. They continued to live there, and Martha was among the members of the Fork of the Little Pigeon Church who requested in 1817 that an arm of that Sevierville church be established in the White Oak Flats community. Martha is reported to have been part Cherokee.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cherokee roots

Henry Oakley's son Wiley (b. September 12, 1885; d. November 18, 1954) was greatly influenced by the Cherokee heritage of his mother Elmina Conner's family. Wiley seemed to innately follow their ways and demonstrate their spirit in his appreciation and respect for nature. After Elmina's death in 1894, he spent much of his time wandering the hills and woods in search of a connection with his dear mother. His knowledge of the land earned him the nickname "The Roamin' Man of the Mountains." He served as a trail guide to many, and his entertaining stories won him the attention of some pretty important people like Harvey Firestone, Henry Ford, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, just to name a few. His wit and wisdom earned him the reputation as the Will Rogers of the Smoky Mountains. As a result, Wiley served in far away big cities as ambassador and spokesman for promoting the establishment of the Smokies as a National Park. However, he declined offers for lucrative contracts and preferred instead to live a simpler life near his beloved mountains, the home of his Cherokee kin.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Henry C. Oakley & The Battle of 'Burg Hill

My great grandfather Henry Coleman Oakley recalled the Civil War Battle of Gatlinburg from his role as a "home guard," when he was just a teenager.

Saltpeter, used to make gunpowder, is said to have been mined at Alum Cave. Both sides would need it and yet would want to keep it from their foes. It was near the cave that Confederate commander William H. Thomas and his "legion" of about 200, comprised primarily of Cherokee soldiers, met Union Lt. Col. Lemborn and his group of 50 men. The skirmish lasted only about an hour, as the two sides battled their way in and out of Gatlinburg.

Henry Oakley told how he watched from a big rock overhang on Turkey Nest Mountain as the Blue Coats of the Union army rode around Burg Hill and the Confederate Gray Coats came around Graveyard Hill. They shot at each other across what would become the main part of town.

One Union soldier was captured. Although no one died, several wounded soldiers escaped, and all the Union supplies were taken, as the fighting dissipated between Gatlinburg and Kodak.

Henry Coleman Oakley, father of my grandmother Josie Oakley, died in 1920. Shown in the top photo is the reenactment group of the 63D Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, CSA, led by their captain, Henry's great-great grandson Jeff Noland, also pictured at right. Period photos of the modern 63d TN impressionists were taken by Wendell Decker of Vintage Studios, using the authentic war photography process.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hopson Cemetery

In 1998, Mother and I visited several members of extended family lines (Ritters) in Washburn, TN, and they were very helpful in telling us details and stories of family history. They also showed us where specific cemeteries were for our Rucker, Kitts, and Hopson families, and that same year, we went to the Hopson Cemetery for a reunion.

My great-great grandfather, David Ross Hopson, was born December 25, 1825, in Dutch Valley to Carolyn (Lively) and Jesse Hopson. David’s father Jesse was born in 1800 in Wake County, North Carolina, to Sara (Bunch, daughter of Ann and Martin Bunch) and Harrod Hopson. Harrod, the son of Richard Hopson, was born in North Carolina in 1778 and died before 1870 in Claiborne County. Sara divorced Harrod in 1835, and he later married Prudence (Henderson) Cunningham, the daughter of Elizabeth (Maples) and Isaac Henderson.

Oral history states that the Hopsons were traveling in a covered wagon with all their belongings, looking for a place to start a living but not knowing where to stop, when the old man Hopson died of pneumonia fever. His wife buried him and never continued their intended journey, settling nearby the cemetery that became the Hopson Cemetery we know today.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hopsons and more Hopsons?

The photo of the two couples includes William and Mary (Rucker) Hopson (standing), but who is the older couple? One way that William and Mary are easily identifiable in photographs is that she was just a little bit taller than he was!

Is the seated couple the same couple that's pictured in the this old tin type photo that's disintegrating? I believe it is. See how the the height of the man and woman is the same in relation to one another. Look at the shapes of the faces and the hair lines.

Personally, I think this is probably William's parents instead of Mary's, because neither of the seated individuals looks anything like the other Ruckers. If I'm correct, then the names of the seated couple are David and Eliza Jane (Rosenbalm) Hopson. They lived in the Dutch Valley area of Washburn, TN.

Eliza Jane (Rosenbalm) and David Ross Hopson were married in about 1851 in Claiborne County and lived and farmed in that Dutch area of Grainger County. David fought in the Civil War and is listed in the Civil War veterans census of 1890.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Midwives: Bradford Loveday's daughters

When Civil War veteran Bradford Loveday's orphaned younger children came under the guardianship of fellow veteran Matthew Breeden, Bradford's three oldest children, Greeneville, Lucy Ann, and Arnettie, were already 16 or older. During their adulthood, Lucy Ann (left) and Arnettie (right) served the community as midwives.

From what I understand, they probably helped deliver the majority of babies born in the early 1900s in that area off of Jones Cove Road in Sevier County. Lucy Ann was described to me as always wearing an apron and always keeping a biscuit in her apron pocket. She is buried at Howard's View Cemetery.

I stumbled across my father's 1924 birth certificate, and sure enough, there was Lucy Ann Loveday's name as the attending midwife, stating that he was "borned alive."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bradford Loveday & The 1863 Siege of Knxville, TN

Perry Webb wasn't my only ancestor who participated in the battle of Fort Sanders at Knoxville. My great-great grandfather Noah Loveday's brother Bradford was there, too.

With Major General Burnside and the Union army inside the fort, which was located near today's Ft. Sanders Hospital, Confederate Lt. General Longstreet thought he and his men could attack at dawn and take them by surprise. He surveyed the fort through field glasses and saw men walking up to the fort walls, but what he did not see was that they were walking across planks that spanned a ditch that was twelve feet wide and from four to ten feet deep.

In the dim morning light with freezing rain, the Confederate soldiers charged, only to be tripped by taut, low-strung wire before falling helplessly into the ditch, unable to scale its sides or the fort walls. As such, they were easy targets for the Union. The battle lasted only 20 minutes, but the Confederates suffered 813 casualties, while the Union had only 13. At least 200 Rebels were taken prisoner from the ditch. Eventually, the Confederate dead were buried in the cemetery behind what is called the Mabry-Hazen House.

Pension papers filed in the late 1880s after Bradford Loveday's death show that neighbors (Henry Ward, Matthew Ball, Emanuel Hurst, William Yarberry, Byram Hurst, Daniel Hurst, and Lewis Breeden), some of whom were Bradford's fellow soldiers, attested to the illness and injury Bradford sustained from his time in Knoxville and suffered with until his death on September 20, 1883.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Perry Webb: Always serving others

My grandmother Josie (Oakley) Loveday's grandfather was Perry Webb, a man who served his country, church, and community.

Perry was born on May 22, 1840, in Sevier County, and on March 24, 1858, he married D.L. and Julia Ann (Bryant) Williams' daughter Mary Jane.

As a Civil War soldier for the Union, Perry enlisted from Cocke County on September 26, 1863, as a private in Company K of the 9th Tennessee Cavalry and was promoted to Regiment Sargent of Company A. He participated in the battles of Greeneville, Wautauga, Bulls Gap, Morristown (2), Russellville, Blue Springs, Salt Works, and Wytheville, as well as the siege of Knoxville. For three months in 1864, he was on special duty guarding the Drake Creek railroad bridge. He was honorably discharged at Knoxville on September 11, 1865. His brothers Abraham and Milas were soldiers as well.

Perry served as deacon and trustee of Bethany Baptist Church (Jones Cove Road), and unfortunately, the church records were lost when his house burned. His faith was very important to him, and he would sometimes sing "the old camp songs" in his sleep.

He and Mary had twelve children, among them my great grandmother Sarah Catherine. They had a peach orchard on their land, and their large log home consisted of two cabin rooms with a fireplace between them and a frame kitchen to one side. In their front yard, they had an open well and beneath the apple trees a few bee hives, which Perry loved to sit and watch in the years after Mary's death on February 16, 1904. Perry died September 15, 1915.

*Some information obtained from a March 21, 1900 article in the Vindicator, shown in the Sevier Bicentennial book, 976.87 of the McClung Collection.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Haunting Mystery Image

These photos intrigue me for so many reasons. The lady on the left in the third image reminds me so much of my mother that I almost can't stop looking at it. Who is she?

The other two photos appear to include my grandmother Margaret Hopson and her sister Eliza, independently with another lady in each. I would assume that the sisters are unmarried, because they seem to be dressed alike, and I think all three photos must have been made on the same day. I believe the year would have been about 1914 or so, since Mamaw got married in 1916. Anyone know the identities of the other two women?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hopson Family

This photo includes my grandmother Margaret Jane Hopson (seated far right) and her parents William and Mary (Rucker) Hopson (seated far left). Standing in the back on the left are Mamaw's sister Eliza, her brother Greenlee and his wife, holding their youngest child. Greenlee's other two children are also in the picture, but I don't know who the rest are. Can anyone identify them? (Note what appears to be a little stuffed poodle held by Greenlee's son. I wonder whether this is a photo made on the day of a family trip to the Stylesville fair, as described in the blog post about Mamaw's memories of Indiana.)

William Harrell Hopson was born February 22, 1862, to Eliza Jane (Rosenbalm) and David Ross Hopson in the Dutch Valley area of Washburn, Grainger County, Tennessee. Mary Isabell Rucker was born April 13, 1868, to Minerva (Jordan) and Samuel Rucker also at Washburn.

Mary and William were married about 1883 at Washburn and lived and farmed at Powder Springs, Tennessee, and about six miles from Amo, Indiana for several years. Willaim Harrell Hopson died June 10, 1921, at Powder Springs, and Mary died September 30, at Luttrell. Both are buried in the Hopson Cemetery, which is in an area called Oakman, near Washburn, Grainger County, Tennessee. .

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

D. L. Williams: Killed by Rebels

Even though Tennessee seceded during the not-so-Civil War, many of Sevier County's men chose to fight instead for the Union. Lots of those families descended from frontiersmen who had fought alongside John Sevier and others in Revolutionary War battles like that at King's Mountain to establish the union and independence of the states.

The mountainous farms of East Tennessee were not heavily populated with slaveholders, and most ET men who fought for the Confederacy were conscripted or had hopes of rising in the social strata because of the trade and commerce that had grown with the deeper South within the 1850s development of railroad systems in the area. Many fought for the South because they deeply believed in the rights of states to make their individual decisions about slavery and other issues. (Two very insightful books about East Tennessee's conflicted role in the War Between the States are O.P. Temple's 1899 East Tennessee and the Civil War and W. Todd Groce's 1999 Mountain Rebels.)

Alternating occupation of Confederate and Union forces in the region wreaked havoc between neighbors and families, and Sevier County was greatly impoverished. Deserters and outlaws roamed the mountains, killing innocent citizens and pillaging farms for food and personal gain. Rebel soldiers came to my great-great-great grandfather Dillard (D.L.) Williams' home off Jones Cove Road above Bethany Baptist Church, and when he went out to face them, they put him on a horse and kept watch over him while they stole from the smokehouse and the corn crib before burning them. After that, they took D.L. up the road and shot him. His wife Julia Ann (Bryant) Williams survived and lived until January 19, 1898. D.L. and Julia Ann Williams were the parents of Mary Jane Williams, who married Perry Webb.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sevier Hurst Grave

Years ago when I was trying to piece together the family lines, Daddy's cousin Myrtle Patrick told me about the lonely graves of my great-great-great grandfather Sevier Hurst and his daughter. (Another of Sevier's daughters, Telitha married Noah Loveday, and I descend from their line.)

Apparently, Sevier died in Sevier County during the not-so-Civil War, when lawless bushwhackers and renegades roamed the mountains, terrorizing families. When Sevier and his daughter died, his wife and children were too afraid to hold a funeral in the cemetery, which was less than half a mile away. Instead, they buried them in shallow graves beside the house, with the intent to move them after the war. Of course, the war lasted much longer than anyone anticipated, and the move never happened.

Decades passed, the house disappeared, woodlands claimed the farm, and the only indications left of the graves were two stones surrounded by a fence. When Myrtle told me the story, she gave me directions: Go to the Gate Cemetery off Jones Cove Road, and from the back of it, walk 350 yards, then turn right. Walk half a mile, then turn right again. and go 350 more yards, finding the graves about 20 feet off to the right. My brother Kenny Loveday and I attempted to find them but never did.

This summer, my determined cousin George Brooks scoured a 3 mile area and finally found the graves! His report brought tears to my eyes. Although the chicken wire fence is all but gone, it seems that someone has placed a marker to honor Sevier and his daughter. The site may be found at N 35 degrees 51.818, W 83 degrees 20.032. Many thanks to Johnnie Hurst, who also helped with that effort!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rucker Family

Shown here are Uncle Simeon Rucker (with beard), my great grandmother Mary (Rucker) Hopson, and her brother Dewitt Rucker. Simeon was the father of Fait, Claiborne, and Rev. Ben Rucker. The Ruckers are of Scotch-Irish descent.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rucker Farm

My beautiful great-grandmother Mary Isabell (Rucker) Hopson (left) was born April 13, 1868 to Minerva (Jordan) and Samuel Rucker at Washburn, Grainger County, Tennessee. Minervia's mother was a Harvey. Minervia had a brother named Jack Jordan.

Mary Rucker Hopson is shown here at her brother's farm with her sister-in-law Mary, who married Dewitt Rucker (Mary Rucker Hopson's brother). Confused?

According to oral history, Mary's father Samuel Rucker put wood in the fireplace, then lay down on a sheep skin rug, and called, "Minervia!" but by the time she got to him, he was dead.

My mother, Wanda Lee (Kitts) Loveday was with her grandmother Mary Rucker Hopson, who was in the bedroom cutting out material for an apron when she just fell over. My grandmother and Gladys Merritt (Chet Atkins’ mother’s sister) were in the garden picking greens, when Mother went out to tell them about her grandmother Mary falling. Mary died that day, on Mother’s sixth birthday, September 30, 1930.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Loveday Gals and Others

I love this photo of sassy Loveday gals and their cousins! I've been told that it was taken at Sally Loveday's wedding on July 28, 1915 and that it includes Ada, Dicey (second from right, back), Sally (far right, back), Georgia, and Winnie Loveday. If anyone can confirm the other identities, I'd love to know!

Sally Loveday (b. June 24, 1892) married Allen Kelly (right, back), pictured here with his cousin Horace Kelly (seated) and Sally's sister Dicey, whom Horace married.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Aunt Esta (Whitted) Breeden and the George Webb Cemetery

I recently attended a Homecoming at Bethany Baptist Church, where several lines and generations of my family worshiped over the decades on Jones Cove Road in Sevier County, TN. Afterwards, I went with my cousins Guy Merritt and George Brooks and his wife Gail, along with new friend Angelia Hurst from Texas, to find some old cemeteries where our kin are buried. As shown in the photo of my daughter, I had been to the Russell Hurst Cemetery (also called the George Webb Cemetery) on Russell Hollow Road back in the early 1990s, when I had visited my grandmother Josie Caldonia (Oakley) Loveday's half sister, Aunt Esta (Whitted) Breeden.

Aunt Esta had told me how her daddy, Jim Whitted (my grandmother's stepfather) had carved his aunt's and uncle's stones, even though he couldn't read or write. His wife, my great grandmother Sarah (Webb Oakley), had shown him what to carve. My grandmother's stepfather AND her husband Jesse James Loveday were both descendants of the Hursts who came to Sevier County from the Shenandoah Valley.

On the day of the recent Homecoming, the little lane that led to the cemetery was overgrown and had become an obstacle course of weeds, briers, brush, vines, and fallen dead pines. However, despite the heat and physical challenges, we made it, allowing Angelia (pictured in black above) to find the elusive graves of her husband's ancestors, G.W. and Catherine Hurst!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Margaret Jane (Hopson) Kitts' memories of Indiana

Mamaw always looked forward to when her mother would fry chickens and make cakes and pies to take to the July 4th picnic at Stylesville, IN, where everyone in the area gathered for food, games, fun and fellowship once year. It was at the Stylsville picnic that she and her sister Eliza spun the wheel to try to win a little stuffed poodle. Mamaw won the poodle, and Eliza won a wiry spider, but it was Mamaw who later dropped the spider onto the bald head of Uncle Pete when he was visiting their home. She ran out of the room laughing when it fell into his long, snowy beard and he began to dance around! Needless to say, she got into trouble for “doing that poor old man that way.”

In the photo, Mamaw (Margaret Jane Hopson Kitts) is on the back row on the left, with the “Princess Leah” buns and the big, black bows and plaid dress.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Margaret Jane (Hopson) Kitts' brother Greenlee

My mother's mother's family lived in Indiana for several years, but they eventually settled back near Washburn, TN, when Indiana began the practice of embalming the dead. My grandmother's father, William Hopson, wanted no part of that, and it wasn’t the norm yet in Tennessee! Mamaw said she was so sad and disgusted to come back to the hills, partly because she couldn’t stand up on the rough terrain and was constantly ruining her pretty stockings! She had also left behind a serious boyfriend, Gilbert Rhea, who was studying to become a doctor and wanted to come get her when he finished school.

Mamaw’s older brother Greenlee Hopson and his family continued to live in Indiana even after his parents and two sisters returned to Tennessee. Greenlee was a dapper young man who served as the local postman with his horse and buggy in his younger years.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Margaret Jane (Hopson) Kitts' school days

My grandmother, Margaret Jane (Hopson) Kitts (center of circle), was a delightful lady with a twinkle in her eyes. She enjoyed telling stories from her childhood, which was spent divided between Tennessee and Indiana. When she was quite small, her family moved to Indiana but came back to Tennessee for a while before her father, William Hopson, sold their Washburn farm and went to a rented farm in Indiana, where her father's sister America Melvina and her husband Eli Sevier Branson also lived and farmed in or near Jamestown.

There in Indiana, Mamaw enjoyed things like taking her doll on Saturdays and riding with her friend Ruth Woods and Ruth’s older brother Arthur in his car, the first in the area, to the town of Amo. Mamaw was always on the move and enjoyed going to church, school, etc., but a few of the services of town, such as peddlers and the physician Dr. Enoch Idle came to them by horse! Sometimes she would take a buggy and her mid-sized, feisty pony, Nell, and drive herself to town. It was that little mare’s colt that was later gored to death by their oxen Berry and Ben at her ill Uncle Jess Hopson’s home, when the community gathered there to get his wood in before winter after he’d had a stroke and was partially paralyzed.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Webb Mountain Flood

Among the stories Aunt Dicey (Loveday) Kelly told us in the early 1970s was one about the historic flooding of Webb's Creek at Webb Mountain. I've also heard Daddy talk about it throughout the years, but I didn't really appreciate the significance of it until I read more recent articles in his Cousin Myrtle (Justus) Patrick's scrapbooks recounting the event. (Myrtle passed away just a month before my father, Carl Loveday, in 2006, and her son Charles has very generously loaned me her scrapbooks.)

It was election night, August 5, 1938, when torrential rains set in, keeping many folks from reaching home after voting, forcing them to stay the night with friends and family. One man had left his car and walked home when he had been unable to ford a creek with it, only to return the next morning and find the vehicle many yards downstream… on its top!! Others awoke that same day to swamped fields and more impassable roads. Creeks had been rerouted by gushing waters unable to be contained within their natural beds, cutting new ravines throughout the area. The son of Atchley’s funeral home director was ready to celebrate his birthday only to get a call to come get bodies at the foot of Webb Mountain. He’d have to go around by Newport, he was told, because too many roads had been washed away along what would be his normal route. Within just a couple of hours, an estimated 15 inches of rain had fallen on the mountain and crashed down its slopes, creating a monstrous wall of water that had destroyed everything in its path!

When Atchley finally reached his destination, he was met by farmers who had come to help and others who were just morbidly curious. Jesse Evans and his wife Eula (Whaley) had been unable to get home from the polls and had stayed the night with Alfred and Lona (McCarter) Ball and their four children. The force of the destructive surge had blown the unsuspecting home to splinters upon impact. The occupants never knew what hit them. Their bodies were strewn down throughout the valley. As word spread across the farmlands, the locals came together to build their caskets and bury them.

Daddy would have been about 14 years old when it happened, and he was still in awe of the event even in his last years.