Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dalton and Dicie

This photo shows two of my grandfather Jesse James Loveday's siblings, Dicie (right) and Dalton (seated). When I obtained this photo, I was told that the other woman (left) was one of Dalton's girlfriends, and another source told me that her name was Queenie Williams. I love the hats!

The full list of children born to Eli and Callie (Spurgeon) Loveday were: Dalton Doyle (married Hettie ??), Lloyd Lawton (married Deama Ball), Jesse James (married Josie Oakley), Ada (married Kurtis Hurst), Dicie (married Horace Kelly), Etter (married Pinkney Ball, Deama's brother), Savannah Georgia (Ruben Thomas, then Oiver Duffy), Winnie Pearl (married John Justus), and Sally (married Allen Kelly, cousin of Horace).

Friday, November 13, 2009

In-Laws and Outlaws

Through this blog I recently connected with yet another distant cousin, whose grandfather Horace Kelly (right) is shown here with my own grandfather Jesse James Loveday (left). Horace married Jesse's sister Dicie (see Visit with Aunt Dicie), making them brothers-in-law.

I've always found it interesting that my grandfather was named for a Confederate outlaw. Even though Sevier County was a predominantly Unionist area, there IS a legend that the infamous Jesse James came through Sevier County and performed one of his acts of unorthodox generosity as a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle. But of course, tales like that exist in LOTS of places.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Greater Identification

One of the reasons I enjoy genealogy so much is because of the joys shared with family in the process, and it's almost always an adventure! Even though the internet and resources like can make research a little easier, they're no substitute for visiting places and people.
While spending time with Varnell and his wife Eileen, I not only had a meaningful visit but learned a lot as well. He, too, has been compiling family information, and there among his photos was one similar to another one of folks I've been trying to identify!
Although my version has more individuals in it, all of the ones in Varnell's have names. The two photos were obviously made on the same day in the same location, and they all evidently have connections to the Rucker family. Here is what I learned: (standing, left to right) young boy, Vada, man, Rosa, Landon, woman, man, Mossie, Barton, woman, Leonard, and Simeon; (seated, left to right) woman, little girl, older gentleman, little girl, Ada, Emeline Nicely, Aaron DeWitt Rucker, and Mary Jane Acuff Rucker. DeWitt and Mary are the parents of all the individuals with names listed here, except for Emeline Nicely, who is Mary's mother. Aaron DeWitt Rucker, was my great granmother Mary Isabell Rucker Hopson's brother.
As I've mentioned before, I enjoy the details of such photos. Click on the picture, zoom in, and see all the things hanging on the porch wall!

Windows on the Past


As a result of recently reconnecting with my mother's first cousin Varnell, we traveled back into the country today. Way back. In fact, before lunch, we'd stepped back a couple hundred years into a house built in 1812.

Just driving toward Luttrell made me cry, because I was flooded with the emotion of missing my mother and grandmother. Stopping at the cemetery where I'd taken my grandmother many years before to visit the unmarked graves of her little baby boys made me sob. However, seeing Varnell and Eileen's old log cabin retreat brought smiles, and exchanging photos and family history information was a joy.

The greatest treat, though, began with showing them the photo (circa 1917) of my grandparents (George and Margaret Hopson Kitts), his mother (Eliza Hopson Wolfenbarger), and the sisters' parents (William and Mary Rucker Hopson) at Charlie Fraley's home where they once lived and ran a dairy farm (See "A Place to Live") and telling him that my grandmother had pointed the house out to me just down the road decades ago. Varnell then told me it was still standing, and before the morning was over, I knocked on a stranger's door and we were getting zenia seeds from the present resident! The homeowner was as thrilled to get the old photo of her house (I had an extra copy) as we were to tour her home! Oh, to put my hand on the same stair railing where my grandparents and great grandparents had touched it on a daily basis!! What a blessing!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hopson Sisters

The passing of my mother's dear cousin Virginia seems like another one of the final links to my parents slipping away from me. She was a beautiful lady, and she and my mother talked almost daily, sometimes SEVERAL times a day, for most of their adult lives. At her funeral, I talked to many relatives I had not seen in years.

As sad as such times are, connecting with family is always good, and in these days of electronic communications, sometimes one may then re-connect in more lasting ways after years of absence. Afterward, a family member shared this photo.

Virginia's mother Eliza and my mother's mother Margaret were sisters. I had always heard about this sweet picture of the sisters as little girls, but I had never seen it. My grandmother, on the left, was born in 1900, several years after their only other sibling, Greenlee.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kodak Underwoods

In June of this year, I took two sisters in search of their Sevier County roots. It was a great day of memorable encounters and pleasant surprises, as I showed them the location of several cemeteries where their Trotter, Robertson, and Emmert ancestors were buried. We even found some of the old homeplaces, and to their delight, we were invited by their distant cousin to tour their great grandfather's Century Farm house that I learned bore the handiwork of 1800s famed wood master craftsman Louis Buckner. What incredible work! The stairs in that 100+ year old home didn't make a squeak!

At the end of an already perfect day, we decided on a whim to see whether we could find the graves of their Underwood ancestors, too. We had a map. We even had directions. We actually stopped and asked several folks along the way where it was. However, locating the John Thomas Underwood cemetery in Kodak took a while.
In the process, we met Alex Johnson who recently bought the Stella Underwood homeplace, which had served several generations of Underwoods. He pointed to the weedy top of a hill in a nearby cow pasture, so we climbed a fence and trudged to victory as the sun went down. Although the Underwoods are not in my personal direct line, I have a few cousins whose lineage traces back to those same graves.

You can read about Louise Buckner, the Underwoods, and other great stories of area history in the 1994 Sevier County, Tennessee, and Its Heritage. In fact, I encourage you to contribute your own Sevier County family stories to the NEW volume presently being compiled for publication. See: or visit the Sevier County History Center for more information.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Mystery Solved!


Sometimes I can answer my own questions!

While rummaging through a box of old high school stuff, I came across an envelope with a letter written in 1979 by my Great Aunt Eliza (Hopson) Wolfenbarger. Lo and behold, it contains the information related to the photo I've wondered about for so long. Evidently, at one time I knew the identities of all the people in the photo.

As stated in my earlier post, the standing couple is William Harrell Hopson and Mary Isabell (Rucker) Hopson, who married in 1883. The letter says that their first child was Preston Greenlee Hopson, born March 21, 1888. He is the baby in the 1888 tin type, which Aunt Eliza had tinted when she had the additional prints made. A second son, Samuel Hopson, was born and died in 1889 at nine months of age.

The seated couple is Thomas Dalton, stepfather of Mary R. Hopson, and his wife (Mary's mother) Minerva. Aunt Eliza says, "Minerva was a Jordan; her mother was a Harvey." This also means that the couple in the other tin type are not this same pair.

She also says, "Samuel Rucker never had his picture made; said it was a sin. He had a heart attack and passed away." See related post for the story of his death.

At the bottom of the note, Aunt Eliza admonishes me, "Put this in the frame behind the picture." I should have listened to her!

Monday, June 15, 2009

More Cherokee Adventures

As I've continued to learn more about the Cherokee, I recently made another trip to the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina. I talked to some folks about the Huskey and Bradley families and spent time with the collections there.

We came back via the Blue Ridge Parkway, where I contemplated more of the sacred sites, like Judaculla Courthouse shown here. The Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook, by Barbara R. Duncan and Brett H. Riggs, is a helpful source of information. To see my photos and notes of related Cherokee sites, click here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Loveday Grave Markers

Last fall I took my cousin George Brooks and his wife Gail on a trip to visit Sevier County cemeteries where generations of Lovedays are buried. We spent the day taking photos of the markers, and with George and Gail's deeply appreciated contributions, I'm sharing them here. Perhaps someone who lives out of the area might like a look at some of them.

These grave stones are from the Fair Garden, Kear-Loveday, Stafford, and Walnut Grove cemeteries, and they include some of the oldest Loveday markers in the county. Click here to view the markers.

(When my father would drive us down Jones Cove Road, he would chuckle and ask whether we remembered the name of the hilltop shown in the background of this view of the Kear-Loveday Cemetery. It was known to him as "Granny's Butt.")

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Collins: The Melungeon Connection

Connecting with kin is just one of the blessings of exploring a family tree. In researching my mother's Kitts line, I was introduced to Norman and Sonja Collins (pictured right), who are my distant cousins and are serious genealogists.

My maternal grandfather George Washington Kitts' mother was Nellie Lucinda Collins, daughter of Aaron Collins. Norman's grandmother Clarissa was Aaron's niece, and she also married a Collins, her first cousin Tom Lee Collins. Tom Lee and Clarissa Collins are pictured left.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Judaculla Rock

For many of us, our elusive Cherokee ties are intriguing, and I'm enjoying learning more about the history and ways. While searching for sacred Cherokee sites, I visited the mysterious Judaculla Rock, a large sandstone inscribed with various symbols and images.

According to Cherokee legend, Judaculla, the slant-eyed giant, leaped from his lofty mountain home on Tennessee Bald and scratched the rock as he landed. Rocks with similar carvings can be found in other Cherokee places, such as Georgia, and all of them are estimated to be hundreds and hundreds of years old.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dow Oakley

One of Henry Coleman Oakley's sons, Dow , left Gatlinburg, Tennessee, before 1900 and went to live near East Bernstadt and London, in Laurel County, Kentucky. Dow's uncle (Henry's brother) Leonard Henderson Oakley, Jr., lived there with his family.

Dow is shown here with his wife Bessie.

Cherokee research adventures

Besides being busy with the holiday activities, I took some time to explore more about Cherokee heritage. I've been reading some really good books about the culture and history, such as G. Keith Parker's Seven Cherokee Myths, and James Mooney's History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee. I've visited some of the sacred sites and took time to contemplate their significance.

Here, you see Kituhwa, one of the original mother town locations that was lost during the Removal in the late 1830s. The townhouse that held the sacred fire was built upon a 15-20 foot high mound that has been reduced to about six feet, as a result of the years of farming by others. What's left of the mound is the slight green rise visible in front of the wooded hill. This 300 acre river bottom land, which lies along the Tuckaseegee below the towering height of Clingman's Dome, was bought back by the Cherokee in 1996.