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McMinn Early Pioneers





Andrew Bigham II (1760-1834)

The Bigham family of the Claxton community descended from Andrew Bigham (1725-1788) of Antrim Co., Ireland, who immigrated with several young children to Mecklenburg Co., NC some time between 1760 and the Revolution. He lies buried in the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church graveyard beside his wife, Agness, on land William Bigham donated to the Church. Sons John, William, and Andrew II fought in the Revolution. John and William are on record as having been rewarded with land grants in Tennessee. Andrew II in all likelihood received his inheritance early or was purposefully omitted from his father's will having left home sometime after the war for Frederick Co, Va. When (Andrew, Sr.) died in 1788 Andrew II was only given 5 shillings. His wife Agness (who died on Sept. 27, 1805 at the age of 73)is mentioned in the will, and his daughter, Agnes Patten was willed a cow and a calf if she would come home. Other sons, William, John, and Samuel received the remainder of the estate. A detailed inventory of his possessions included a wide variety of interesting items, i.e., spinning wheels, gun and shot bags, candlestick snuffers, liquor kegs, "smith" tools, etc.,all valued in pounds and shillings. The will was drawn up on May 29, just a few days before his death on June 3rd.

Andrew II (1760-1834) at some point returned from Virginia to Mecklenburg Co. and crossed over to Tennessee in 1797 where he bought 136 acres of land for 13 pounds and 12 shillings of Virginia money.The land was purchased from a John Shields,one of two faculty members of Tusculum College at the time. The land had been part of a tract of 1000 acres granted by the government of N.C. to Mr. Shields. Andrew's land was east of present day Newport alongside the grant of his brother William, who had two land grants from NC. for his Revolutionary War service. William is known to have been in Greene Co. as early as 1789 when Washington became the first President.

On Aug. 7, 1792 Andrew II is recorded in court records as security in marriage of a Robert Montgomery and Orpha Corder. Andrew appears on court records in Greene Co. as a witness in a court case. He also appears on the official roll being commissioned as an ensign on Oct. 10, 1796 and as a lieutenant on May 10, 1798 in the Greene Co. militia. From there he went to Smith Co., which was the parent county of White Co., where Andrew appeared on the census in 1820. He went next to McMinn Co. sometime after that census was taken and before 1822. In the Meadow Fork Settlement of McMinn Co. Andrew entered 160 acres from his son Eli who later went to Illinois; and on the same day (5 Sept.1831) entered 160 acre from Nathaniel Smith in the Hiwassee District.

It is possible that Andrew had help in setting up his beautiful new farm from his sons Eli and Josiah. Benjamin Bigham is on the 1820 census for the area also, although we have no documented relation yet, as well as a David and wife Malinda Bigham who lived in the Columbus area. Josiah was mentioned in the "Court Records for Mc Minn Co" jury duty 6 Dec 1826.

In Andrew II's 1830 household was a daughter, Levisa and a grandson (Isaac) and a granddaughter, Possibly Nancy Ann Lunna, who married Nelson Pennington 19 Sept 1845; Nearby was a daughter, Polly, mother of Asberry and Melinda; and another daughter, Matilda, with two children; another Cynthia, wife of Jonathan Vinson; and a deceased daughter who married Vinson Wood. Asberry moved to the Bradley Co. area and has numerous descendants (most changed the spelling to Bingham.)

Matilda ("Tildy") married David Pennington in 1839. Cynthia Bigham married Jonathan Vinson. Celia married Benjamin Knox in 1844. His son Eli married a Sarah Hanks probably from Mc Minn Co. before he and Josiah both went to Illinois.

Another lost and unnamed heir was Andrew J. Bigham, born ca. 1817, who married Eliza Jane Cassady. He was the grandfather of the late Alice Bigham Inveen. (Correspondence requested here.< billbigham@juno.com>)

In 1832 Andrew II signed his "X" to his application for the first Rev. War Pension granted by Pres. Jackson to the old veterans, finally receiving $73.33 per annum, totaling $279.98, of which he promptly lent $220 William Lowery never to recover before his death at the age of 74 soon thereafter. This document provides great detail about Andrew II's life and war experiences, as he had to convince the War Dept., which had returned his application for too long of service rendered, that his service was legitimate.The inventory of his estate showed outstanding notes from various individuals of more than $500 and notes for estate property sold and more than $160 to relatives and neighbors. Daughters Vicy, Matilta, and Polly purchased several items on credit to the estate. A David and Malinda bought articles also (a relative of Sharlet Bigham LaBarbera)sharlet@iconnect.net)

Chancery Court records in McMinn Co. and Madisonville from 1839 to 1841 reveal a complicated legal dispute which resulted from the sale of Andrew II's land by several heirs to James L. Senter, who died suddenly in 1839 after selling his interest in Andrew II's farm to Richard and Alfred Swafford. The legal problem resulted from the claim by Senter's heirs that the land had been deeded to them previously by their father.This Injunction Bill #153 prohibited those heirs from selling the tract of land until final resolution by the court.

Andrew's exact date of death is uncertain, however the Court in McMinn Co. appointed Mr. John Camp as executor of his estate in early April of 1834. Andrew probably lies buried in an unmarked grave in the Richard Swafford cemetery on the farm he owned from 1823 to 1834.


Andrew and Mary Earheart Hutsell

Members of our family have compiled complete and accurate genealogical records which are available to any of us. In fact, we have far better information than our grandparents and great-grandparents ever knew. But there are those personal characteristics about our forebears, which fade with time; and, as those who were there die, they are lost and forgotten.

It is my intention to put in writing my knowledge of our ancestors who came to McMinn County to start what has become a very large and scattered family. I will repeat what my grandmother, who was the youngest child of Mary and Andrew Hutsell, told me over a fifteen year span. A very happy association it was. So often her idea of her background was colored with stories of aristocratic ancestors to whose families she referred as FFV's... First Families of Virginia. I am disappointed that I must refute her innocently conceived idea; I don't know why she assumed this because she was never one to "put on airs." In the first place, our ancestors settled in the Western part of Virginia, in those rolling hills so like that part of Germany where they had lived for hundreds of years before they came to America, and very similar to the topography of McMinn County. Then, too, they were not educated people. They were second generation and third generation immigrants who had not even learned to write in English, and who had very little, or no, material wealth until they had worked and saved and bought land. One of Andrew Hutsell's oldest books was an Old Dutch Bible that had come from his family. He read from it all his life. I believe it was actually German, though he referred to it as his Dutch Bible. These were hard working people who had very little of the materials things of life, but they were industrious and frugal. Andrew's mother, Christina Hounshell, brought some property with her when and after she married John Hutsell. Her father, John Hounshell, had started with very little. He served in the Revolutionary War, accumulated some wealth and left an estate that provided his children with real property, slaves or cash settlements. John Hounshell and his wife, Susannah Messerschmitt are buried in the cemetery at St. Paul's Lutheran Church near Rural Retreat, Virginia. I have recently visited their graves. The brick church building is a hundred years old, but a plaque on the church tells us it is the oldest Lutheran congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains.. Founded in 1767. The Hutsells and Hounshells were Lutherans. I think the Earhearts and Painters were, too, since they were of German or Dutch descent.

The Hutsells and Hounshells settled in Wythe County, Virginia, on and near Reedy Creek, which winds throughout the county. When I first started researching our family, I looked in the telephone directory of Wytheville, chose a Hounshell, and wrote him, explaining we were Hounshells and I would like some information. I never had a reply, but I later learned it was negro to whom I had written! Descendent of slave, I suppose. John Hutsell and Christina Hounshell were married April 12, 1803. They had eleven children. The oldest of these was Andrew (named for his mother's brother) who was born January 2, 1805.

Now, to look at the Earhearts. Mary Earheart's parents were John and Margaret (Painter) Earheart. They lived in Montgomery County, Virginia, a few miles out of Christiansburg. Their house, built in 1820, was still there a few years ago when I visited the area. Close by is a small family cemetery, enclosed with a stone wall and an iron gate.. Locked many years ago and not opened since. I believe that last grave put there was in the early 1920's. John and Margaret and other Earheart relatives are buried there. This, too, is pretty hilly countryside like the southwestern part of Germany known as the Palatinate . which they left to come to America. Margaret Painter's father was Adam. A story in the family says that Adam had worked long and hard to save money to buy his own farm. When he had enough to pay for the farm that he wanted, he took the cash, started out for the owners to make his payment, and was murdered and robbed. John and Margaret Painter Earheart were married January 4, 1791. They had six children. The two girls were Mary and Margaret, known as Polly and Peggy. Margaret married a Mr. Davis. They had no children. She was always known as Aunt Peggy Davis. One of Mary and Andrew's daughters was named for her, Ursula Davis Hutsell, who married Joseph Rucker. Aunt Peggy had her portrait painted and gave it to her daughter, Blanche. It was stored in a warehouse in Chattanooga when the warehouse burned, so the portrait is gone. Andrew and Mary used to go by train to Christiansburg to visit. Particularly to visit Mary's brother, Adam; and to her relatives, the Montagues and Charltons. Her mother had died two years earlier and it was quiet and lonely at home. She was lighthearted and bright, with a happy outlook----a contrast to the quiet, stern Andrew, who was 27 at the time of the marriage.

They left immediately for Tennessee where Andrew bought a farm a mile or two from Athens. We know this as Uncle Harrison's place, but it is now a part of Athens where North City grocery is, North City School, etc. Here Andrew farmed and operated an overnight stand for families who were migrating west. He was equipped to keep herds of cattle, pigs, turkeys or horses----or whatever the migrants were driving through. He accumulated enough to purchase more land, he did---and at one time was one of the largest landowners in the county. Their first child was a girl, born March 10, 1833. They named her Margaret Isabella for Mary's mother and Andrew's grandmother. She died in infancy.

Next, they had a boy, John Earheart Hutsell, named for Mary's father---and then another boy whom they named George Washington, which was always a popular name. Another boy, Elijah Montgomery, named for his pleasant memory for Mary. Then another girl, Clemanda Virginian, named for the state of Virginia. And another girl, Ellen Missouri, for the state of Missouri. Another girl, Aphelia Burns, Apehila for a neighbor, (Mrs. Musroe) and Burns for another neighbor. She died in infancy and was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Athens, TN in 1845. Then another son, William Harrison, named for President William Henry Harrison. Harrison was his mother's favorite son. Then Erasmus Taylor. Erasmus for the German (Dutch) theologian and scholar and Taylor for Zachary Taylor. The rest were girls. Ursula David---Ursula, a good German name and Davis for Mary's sister, Aunt Peggy Davis. Mary Etta, Mary for Uncle Sam's wife; Artimisa Roxina, for then they must have run out of names. The last, Helen Vernon. Some relative wrote and suggested that they name her Helen, which they pronounced, as Heelen and Vernon for Mt. Vernon. It was unusual that Helen died in 1945 and was buried in the same cemetery, Cedar Grove, where her sister was buried 100 years earlier.

Some years before this last child was born, Andrew had bought a farm several miles down in the country on Spring Creek. They built a four-room house on a hill in a grove of large oak trees. He and the young sons would go down there to work, often staying a week or two at a time. Andrew had acquired several slaves at the time even though he was opposed to slavery. He was an Unionist and a Methodist. Before the Civil War he moved his family to Spring Creek. It was his intention to build a nice home for Miss Polly, which is what he usually called his wife. But the economy was so unsettled and troops were often coming through foraging and stealing---both sides---that he decided to wait. More than once troops came to his Spring Creek house looking for whatever they could find as well as for men to serve in the Army. Uncle Harrison hid out more than once before he joined the Union forces: Mary buried her silver.

With the War over, Andrew fired his brick kiln and with help on the place, built a handsome two story, four rooms with hall and stairs onto the existing four rooms. This was enhanced by a tall columned porch in front and a boxwood walk to the lane leading up from the road passing below. There is a fine spring at the foot of the hill below the garden and a well under the back porch. Beside what remains of the house today is a large holly tree, which Mary planted when she moved there.

During this time, Andrew went to Nashville to buy furniture for the new addition to his home. Those things they had not bought in Athens or Calhoun where he picked them up. A set of cane bottomed chairs which he bought were painted with "A. Hutson" (misspelled) on the bottom. The mirror for the parlor survives; it, too, is in good condition today.

The loom house was one of those buildings out in the side yard. I'm sure Mary spun on her flax wheels, but she did not know how to weave. Someone came once a year to weave for the family needs. She stayed two or three months, or whatever time was necessary for her to supply the family needs for blankets, towels, bedspreads and homespun. One of the family (through Mary Etta Hutsell) has one of the flax wheels. The Selden family (through Helen V. Hutsell) has the other wheel, as well as some of the coverlets, blankets, and a couple of linen towels. I have a pair of Andrew's gloves, a silk handkerchief and his straight-blade razor from this period.

While Andrew and Mary were living in Athens, they were active members of the Methodist Church, and he appears as a trustee of the present Keith memorial United Methodist Church in 1842. He was active in the organization of Tennessee Wesleyan College where he served as one of its incorporators and one of its first trustees. He was succeeded in this appointment by his brother, Sam, from Meigs County. It was during this period that he came to know W. G. Brownlow---known as Parson Brownlow, from Knoxville, who was a strong Unionist, Methodist, and Governor. At the time of the disagreement in the Methodist Church, Andrew early allied himself with the anti-slavery group which became the "Northern" Methodist Group.

He sent three of his daughters to Grant University. Some went to Sweetwater to the Female Academy there. That's where Clemie and Artie met their husbands.

After his move to Spring Creek, he offered a plot of ground with a spring to be used for a Methodist Church. A frame building was built by other interested members of the community. This became Union Chapel Cemetery. Traveling Indian doctors were not uncommon at this time. And Andrew subscribed to one of these who came every year to treat whatever ailed him. Just such a prescription of medicine proved to be his undoing because the medicine gave Andrew dysentery. His condition worsened and he died within the week----there at home.

By this time he had given all of his sons a good farm. (George had gone to Cincinnati to work during the Civil War. While he was there he had a "fever" and died. He was buried there.) Harrison had the original farm just north of Athens. John too. Elijah had the farm close-by, which is today the J. G. Layman farm, and Razzie kept the Spring Creek Farm. Artie and Helen got a little property off of the farm, which Harrison had. Mary and Artie were married soon after. Mary to Rance A. Ellis and Artie to W. D. Stowe, her brother-in-law Marcus Goddard's nephew. Helen, the last, was married in 1886. Mary (Polly) was visiting her daughter, Mary Ellis, in 1892, in Athens, when she had a seizure (diagnosed as spinal meningitis) I wonder if it were a stroke, and died. After her death the household was divided, though the children didn't seem to want a great deal.

While Mary and Andrew were living near Athens, an itinerant artist came to paint their portraits. It was the custom then for the artist to live with his customers while he was sketching or painting. And so this is what Edmund Hacker did in the fall of 1851 when he made pastels of Mary and Andrew. It appears that the artist had the bodies already finished and just added the head of his subject. In McMinn County, there are six other portraits existent, painted by the same artist, and they all have on the same clothes.

In 1842 Mary and Andrew entered their products at the County Fair in Athens. Both won prizes. The total premiums amounted to 20 silver dollars which they took to the silversmith-William Seahorn-in Athens to have him make a silver cup. They used it when they went to the watering places-springs. They used to go to Benton springs on Chilhowee Mountain before the Civil War. Helen Hutsell Roberts inherited this cup, and she, too, used to take it to the resorts to use to drink the healthful water. Her granddaughter, Elizabeth Selden Taylor now has the cup, a very handsome, handmade silver beaker with a plain handle. It is engraved "Andrew and Mary Hutsell, 1842".

The first of Mary and Andrew's children to marry was Clemmie, who married Marcus Bearden Goddard from Sweetwater. They lived in Sweetwater where their large frame house on Church Street has been made into an apartment house-more than a hundred years later. Just before 1890 the Goddards decided to go west where they lived, and died, in the state of Washington. Two of the Goddard children lived until their late 90's. All of their descendants live in the western states. Then John Earheart Hutsell married Margaret Bonner, daughter of James and Ann (Baker) Bonner. This was a happy home which John's family enjoyed visiting. His sisters were particularly fond of Mag, as they call her. Sulie slipped off to marry Joe Rucker. They were married in the road between her home and Union Chapel. Razzie first married Susan Julian from Bradley County. She was the mother of his surviving daughters. When she died he married Lou Ella Eban. They had one or two children who died in infancy.

Harrison married his brother-in-law's sister, Matilda Rucker. She was the mother of his children. He later married Cornelia Atlee, but that proved to be a mistake and they were divorced. Elijah married Harriet Pierce. They lived on the farm over the hill now known as the J. G. Layman farm. They had three sons, Elijah and Hattie moved west with their son, Fred. They died there and are buried at Napa, Idaho.

Ellen married a widower who had children almost as old as she. This made for an unpleasant situation. Her family was pleased about the marriage with Charles L. Matlock, but it almost ended in divorce. She went back, made the most of it, and survived him by many years. Ellen, Sulie and Helen lived just over the hills from each other, so they visited often.

Mary Etta also married a widower, Ransom (Rance) A. Ellis, several years older than she. His health was bad so she went with him to California (Pasadena) to try another climate for better health. This didn't seem to help, so they returned to the home they had built on Tennessee Wesleyan Campus where he soon died. They had three children. (Helen, Maynard, and Hubert).

Artie married at home to Dossie Stowe. She was the first of the children to die, with a malignancy. They had three sons, Luther, Harry, and Dossie.

Helen was the last to marry. She had several suitors, but chose the one her brothers least approved of. She, too, was married at home (Spring Creek) in 1886. Her brothers, John and Elijah, did not speak to her after the wedding and this hurt her as well as created a breach in the family, which was not easily forgotten. But Will Roberts, her husband, was good to her and seemed headed for success. When Mary Hutsell died, in 1892, Helen reached across her grave to shake John's hand; he took it and they were friends once again---and Elijah relented, as did the other brothers.

Helen died in 1945, the last survivor of 13 children, the first of which was born in 1833---so that one family enjoyed a long span, reaching back to grandparents born in the 18th century to children and grandchildren reaching far into the 20th century and maybe into the 21st.

Mary and Artie went to school in Sweetwater, Tennessee---Sweetwater Female Academy; Helen went to Grant University in Athens.

Charles L. Matlock and Ellen Missouri had three children: (1) Ida who married Will Millard (2) Mae who married Henry Walker; she died in childbirth (3) Clay Summerfield who married Gertrude Karavinoff.

Andrew's mother and father moved to McMinn County before 1850 to live with their daughter Elizabeth who married William Hoback, and close by two other daughters, Susan Sharitz and Malvina Carlisle. This was in the Tranquility Community. They are buried there. A brother, Uncle Sam, lived in Meigs County where he built the colonial brick house on the Kyker farm. Another brother, Uncle Elijah lived in the Union Chapel area and Uncle Dave never married. There are many of Uncle George's descendants here today, and several of Uncle Sam's, the Meigs County group. Samme Templin MTTemplin@aol.com


John Cantrell

The late W.G. McCarron of Athens, in an article entitled "Big Families of McMinn County", published in the Athenian on September 19, 1912 gives a brief history of the Cantrell family of this area:

"...John Cantrell, who was Heugenot orgin, was the founder in this country of the Cantrell family, and ancestor of the Cantrells of McMinn County, was said to have had 21 sons and two daughters--17 sons by his first wife and four sons and two daughters by his second wife. His son Thomas Cantrell had ten children, and the example set by his father has been followed closely to the present time.


A story is handed down in the Cantrell family that the father of this army of boys went into a new country store of the neighborhood and the proprietor of which was a stranger and asked to see some boys hats. The storekeeper politely handed down a dozen hats in a box from which his new customer might make a selection, and laying the dozen hats to one side said he would like another box full.'Well!'said the surprised merchant, 'How many hats do you want?' WhereuponMr. Cantrell stepped to the door where his family was waiting in wagons and said: 'Boys, come in here!' In marched 21 boys and lining up by the counter, the surprised merchant said, 'Are these boys allyours?' When assured they were, he replied, 'Well, you can beat me in being clever, so I'll just give you 21 hats.' This he did, each boy made his selection and marched out. There were probably no newspapers in which a merchant could advertise in that neighborhood, but this merchant made a hit that put him on his feet thereafter.


Six of John Cantrell's 21 sons later served in the Rev. War.


Note: In checking with my Cantrell-Newman Genealogy book I find a John Cantrell who had 21 sons by two different wives. However, this John3 never reached McMinn Co. He was born in New Castle Co Pa (now Delaware) in 1724. Died 1803. Migrated to Rockingham Co NC before the Rev war and to Spartanburg Co, SC where he owned over 800 acres.." He was the father of Thomas Cantrell4 of Cantrell's Cross Roads. This John3 (1724) was of Joseph2 (c.1695) of Richard1 (c.1600's, the earliest Cantrell, Cantrill on record at present.)


John3 had 21 sons of which the McMinn Co TN line comes from # 12 son THOMAS CANTRELL4, b. Jan 23, 1761, d. Sept. 23, 1830 and is buried in what we call the Thomas Cantrell Cemetery. This is one of the oldest dated tombstones in the county. It was on his land, then called Cantrell's Cross Roads, later called Williamsburg, and Grady and now West Etowah. The Taylor Mansion today was his home. (See the touching story of Thomas' daughter, Mary Cantrell Cook, in her move to our stark county in the early 1820's. See WILLIAM HENRY COOKE.) Thomas had 10 children of which # 5, Elijah5 and # 8, David5, are McMinn's Cantrell descendents.


First ELIJAH: He had 9 children, the direct descendent is the first born, THOMAS CANTRELL6, b. JUNE 22, 1819 in DeKalb CO TN. Migrated to McMinn with his parents as a small boy. He married Louisa Lawson, dau of Lewis Lawson of near Athens. Moved to Missouri in 1850 but returned and lived in Bradley CO during the Civil War; later returned to DeKalb CO where he died in 1885. Was a member of the Meth. Episc. Church and was highly respected in the localities where he lived.


The direct descendent is from # 2 son, ELIJAH WILSON CANTRELL7, b. Jan. 6, 1848. Married Bettie Jane Moore Sept.3, 1873. She was born Sept 5, 1855. This Elijah had large fruit interests (grafting) in the Piney Grove Community. They were Methodists. Elijah had 14 children.


The direct descendent here is # 8 child, CREED JONES CANTRELL8 b. Jan. 2, 1889. He married Loula Bell Walker b.l893; d. Oct 30,1978. They had 5 children: NETTIE JANE CANTRELL BIGHAM b. Jan 14, 1914; d. Sept 28,1986 CREED JONES (C.J.) CANTRELL b. Apr 8, 1916; d. Aug 8, 1964. MARY LEE CANTRELL TORBET NOV 28,1917; d. Jan 8, 1996. JAMES LUTHER CANTRELL Aug 19, 1919 WILLIAM FRANCIS CANTRELL May 27, 1921; d. Apr 7, 1979. IAGO CANTRELL Feb 14, 1926

CONTINUING WITH ELIJAH WILSON'S BROTHER DAVID CANTRELL: Son of Thomas Cantrell4, of John3, of Joseph2, of Richard1.

DAVID CANTRELL5 was born July 20, 1795, in Greenville District, SC. Went with his parents to McMinn CO TN and settled upon the waters of Chestuee Creek. He married (1) Alice Reynolds, dau of Isham Reynolds, of Hawkins CO TN, Feb. 25, 1823. She was born Mar. 10, 1797 and died Feb. 28, 1849, leaving (9) nine children. Married (2) Rebecca Wilburn Crockett, Oct. 19, 1851. Three children. He died Feb. 19, 1859, and was buried in a private plot on what was once a portion of his farm.

Children: 1203. i. Reynolds Cantrell 1204. ii. Clementine, b. Nov 2, 1825; m. Clinton R. Newman, Dec. 9, 1846; d. Oct 1891. 1205. iii. Adaline 1206. iv. Elmira 1207. v. Marcus De Lafayette 1208. vi. Elizabeth Ann 1209. vii. Malcom 1210. viii. Alice Elizabeth 1211. ix. Martha Ann 1212 x. Sarah Mahala 1213. xi. Margaret Madaline 1214. xii. Mary Madora

John Hart

The Athenian Sept. 19, 1912: The late W. F. McCarron of Athens, in an article entitled "Big Families of McMinn County" gives a brief history of the Cantrell and Hart families. Both families were of that heroic band of North Carolina whigs who put a quietus on the British about the time of the massacre by the Creek Indians at Frot Mims near Mobile. The excitement of a threatened invasion thereafter of this territory by these same Indians was the occasion of the beginning of General Andrew Jackson's campaign into Alabama in which he commanded a heroic band of volunteers from Tennessee, ending March 27, 1814, in the celebrated battle of Tohopeka, or the Horseshoe, on the Tallapoosa, a tributary of the Alabama, which was defended by a thousand Indians, only about a score of whom escaped slaughter.

The elder Hart was one of Jackson's men in this battle, where he was killed. "John Hart Sr. had several children one of whom, John Hart Jr., was born in Roane County Jan. 27, 1813, and coming to McMinn County when a boy, settled on a farm..in the old Third Civil District. John Hart Jr. married Mary Spradling, daughter of Richard Spradling, also of pioneer stock and one of the widely known and substantial families of the county. From this union were born five children only one of whom is now living--John Hart, who for 12 years was a member of the McMinn County Court.

His second wife was Nancy Ann Womack to whom he was married Oct. 2, 1857, ant to whom was born six children. John Hart Jr. died June 17, 1902, 89 years of age, and is buried at Rogers Creek Cemetery. Their mother died in Athens in August, 1910, and is buried by the side of her husband. James Franklin Hart was born on the Hart Homestead in this county Oct. 15, 1899 was married to Miss Tina S. Spradling, the same name as that of his father's first wife, but of no blood relation to her husband. To this union there has been born 13 children. Sheriff Hart and family are members of the Baptist Church." Transcribed by billbigham@juno.com


Agustus "Gus" Evans Billings 15 Jun 1910- 23 May 1946

Gus was the only child of Gaither and Anna Sophia Evans Billings, he was born at a Niota, TN address on June 15, 1910. Laura Billings Fox recalls Gus as "one of the most beautiful little children I ever saw, his eyes were the color of Autumn skies and his hair the color of buttercups."

Maude Blair Bowers recalled, "Pearl and I visited Gaither and Annie around 1909 when Annie was pregnant with Gus. Annie played the organ for us." Pearl Blair Creasman later described Annie as "a woman of quality." At this time Gaither and Annie lived in a little house close to the "Green House." Based on the foregoing this location is probably where Gus was born. Maude says this was a Niota postal address at the time and Gus' TN birth certificate lists his place of birth as Niota, TN.

Gaither Augustus Billings was born June 15, 1886 in his parents' log home in Surprise, Roane Co., TN. He was the fifth of seven children born to Bayless Winslow and Rachel M. Cooley Billings.

Annie Evans' Parents were Andrew and Sophia Clutter Evans. He was born in Ohio and she in Austria. When Annie was born Nov. 28, 1888, her parents lived in a log home in the Head of the Creek community in McMinn Co. , TN. , which is near the town of Sweetwater.

Pearl Blair Creasman said, "At the time of Gus' birth, Gaither and Annie were living somewhere near the " green house."The green house is so called by present day relatives because of the color of the house. The house is standing today and is located in the vicinity of Pisgah church, in McMinn Co. , TN, on the left side of Hy. 68 at Mile marker three near the intersection of McMinn Co. rt.. 292 with Southbound Hy. 68.The old gravel road that was once rt.. 68 runs 20-30 yds. away from the front of the house. `A small spring runs about fifteen yds. behind the house, further on past the small spring is a bigger spring and about 120 yds. from the back of the house stands a barn.. Pearl Blair Creasman said the area where the house was built was called Bulah's chapel at the time the house was built.

Gus was four months old when his mother, Annie. died of typhoid fever on Dec. 23, 1910 in McMinn Co., TN. , leaving her husband and their four-month-old son, Gus. Annie's brother, Lafayette had contracted typhoid while moving his family's outdoor toilet and had been placed in quarantine at his home. Annie visited her brother saying she was going to see him regardless of the quarantine. Her obituary in the Sweetwater News says she was "buried near her home in Blue Springs." Several Billings relatives also say Annie is buried at Blue Springs Cemetery in Roane CO., TN, near the Erie community.

The Baskets, who were Gaither's neighbors, cared for Gus after Annie's death just long enough to pay Gaither for Annie's organ which he traded for Gus' care, according to Pearl Blair Creasman.

After the Baskets, Gaither took Gus to live with his sister, Myrtle Billings Blair, in Surprise, TN about 1910/11. Myrtle's daughter, Maude Blair Bowers, recalls "we began caring for Gus when he still wore a dress and a diaper. Gaither brought all Gus' clothes in a woven wooden shopping basket, They consisted of five or six dresses which buttoned up the back and some diapers. There was a baby bottle full of milk laying on top of the clothes. My sister, Blanche Blair, assumed Gus' day to day care, while I took care of my brother, Fred."

Gwendolyn Gallant Starnes, Blanche's daughter, says, Gaither presented Blanche with a large hand blown glass Easter egg bearing a verse and hand painting. The verse on the egg read, "So will thy heart to quiet and calm, So wilt thou gather the wayside balm. So will the blessings of Easter Tide deep in thine inner life ever abide." Maude says they took care of Gus from the time his Mother died until Gaither married Bertha Wallis. A couple of years ago Gwen was kind enough to give this writer the Easter egg described above.

Gaither and Miss Bertha Wallis were married 21 Sept. 1913, Bertha was a few days past her 16th birthday. Bertha was the daughter of Joseph William "Barlow" and Artie S. Kennedy of the Ten Mile Community in Meigs Co., TN. Gaither took his son, Gus, back from his sister, Myrtle, who had cared for Gus for three years by this time. On 21 Aug. 1914 Bertha presented Gaither with another son who was named Theodore Douglas Billings. Pearl Blair Creasman says Gaither lived in a house on Pine St. in Athens around the time Ted was a baby. The Pine St. house was high in front and had no front porch. To prevent Ted falling out the open front door, Gaither nailed boards across the door.

In 1914 Gaither moved his family to Niota, TN where they lived on the farm of Gaither's 2nd cousin Amos Walter Billings, according to Amos Walter's daughter, Laura Bessie Billings Fox. At this time Gaither and his Father, Bayless, built a house for Laura's widowed Mother, Mary Alice Nelson Billings.

On Dec. 27, 1916 Gathers 19-year-old bride of just over two years died of typhoid fever leaving Gaither alone again. Gaither was to care for two sons, two and a half year old Ted and six year old Gus. Bertha was buried near her parent's relations at the Pond Hill Cemetery near Athens in McMinn Co., TN.

Bearing the responsibility of earning a Living and having no one at home to care for his sons Gaither now turned to Tim and Annie Carpenter, who were related to Bertha Wallis, to care for Ted and Gus, according to Maude Blair Bowers. Zelda Newton Billings says that after Bertha died, Gaither "lived high and wide" leaving someone else to raise his two sons. Zelda said, "Gaither loved dances and drank until his later years." On the other hand, Bernice Wallis Thompson says, "Gaither's drinking never affected his family life."

Theodore Douglas Billings recalls going to school hungry and in rags because he says Gaither "farmed him out" to different families after his Mother, Bertha, died. He continued, "If Aunt Mert (Myrtle Billings Blair) hadn't taken me in I don't know what would have happened to me."

Gaither apparently took Gus and Ted back to his sister Myrtle Billings Blair after they had lived with the Carpenters because Ted Billings, said that after Myrtle Billings Blair's husband, James Hardin, died in 1922 he and Gus were cared for by the Tim Carpenter family who were related to Gaither's second wife, Bertha Wallis. Later Gus and Ted were cared for by Bernice Wallis and her Sister, Maude Wallis, who lived in Athens, TN in a house on (Pine St. ?) near the Cedar grove Cemetery according to Pearl Blair Creasman. They were next cared for by Myrtle Blair who also lived near the Cedar grove cemetery according to Zelda Billings.

Mrs. Nannie Ford Fitch recalls Gus attending the first Concord school in Ten Mile, Meigs Co. , TN. The school was located between the picnic ground and the cemetery at present day Concord Church. Mrs. Fitch says the Billings boys lived with their Uncle and Aunt, James Hardin and Sarah Myrtle Billings Blair on the old Bayless Billings farm about a mile from Concord Church. Mrs. Fitch continued saying, "J. H. (James Hardin) Blair taught at Ten Mile School in Meigs Co. , TN around 1918 and then at Concord. Gus' brother, Ted, recalls that he also attended school at Concord.

Maude Blair Bowers says, "Ted attended Concord but Gus never did because Gaither took Gus back before he was old enough to go to school." Ted is in a school group picture made at Concord School ca. 1918 when he was about four years old.

Pearl Blair Creasman says, "one day when he was little, Ted was looking at a picture of his Aunt Myrtle Billings Blair, Ted said there's a picture of Aunt Mert (Myrtle) but she ain't got no whicker ( hickory switch) in her hand." When Pearl told her Mother this, Myrtle just laughed and said, "well I kept a whiker most of the time or those boys would ride rough shod over me."

Gilmer Massey of the Ten Mile Community in Meigs Co. , TN says he and Gus were returning to Ten Mile from Athens, via the Clearwater road, one day when Gus pointed out the location of the place where he had gone to school. This was in the vicinity of where present day (1989) Clearwater rd.. to Athens, TN (McMinn Co Rt..305) crosses under Interstate 75. After going under I-75, continue toward Athens for about one half mile on Clearwater Rd.. The school was located just before reaching the Russell place. A house is standing on the location of the former school and there is a pretty big church nearby. In this vicinity, a road forks off Clearwater Rd.. and goes to a rock quarry.

Ted Billings says, "one day in school the teacher asked Gus to go to the blackboard and do a math problem. Either that day or soon after Gus quit school. In spite of his limited education Gus could saw lumber all day and tell you at the end of the day exactly how many board feet he had sawed."

Harboring disdain for formal education, Gus was to later tell his wife that their oldest son, Wayne Paul Billings, didn't need to go to school because he could learn all he needed to know by accompanying him to the sawmill every day. "Gus' Uncle Bayless Winslow Billings Jr. bailed him out of Loudon Co. , TN jail when Gus was fourteen" says Winslow's daughter, Estella Billings Yates. Ted Billings says, "Gus drank from the time he was fifteen until he was twenty-five or thirty, but held his liquor well. The only time I ever saw Gus high was in the 30's, we both got pretty high that time. We had picked enough blackberries to make ten or twelve gallons of blackberry wine and drank our fill of it." Billy Thompson confirmed Ted's statement saying, "both Gus and Ted drank but they never got into any meanness."

Ted Billings recalled that as a young man Gus went to California for a while, where he worked in the nut groves. Gus may have worked in the area where his Uncles Israel and William Evans lived. . Billy Thompson recalls, "Gus had a nineteen twenty nine A Model Ford with a rumble seat. One day Gus was going somewhere and wouldn't let Ted go along. Ted sneaked into the car's rumble seat and eased the lid down to prevent its locking, then waited quietly for Gus to leave. Later as Gus drove along the bumpy gravel road the trunk lid bounced shut and locked. Knowing he was trapped, Ted became frantic and began to sing and holler at the top of his voice. It only took Gus a second to figure out Ted had hidden in the rumble seat and he just drove on like he didn't hear Ted, letting him sweat it out."

Ted Billings remembered, "Gus and Jake Ward were both courting Elsie Burtrum. It all came to a head down at the spring behind Pisgah Church one night. Gus and Jake got into it, with Gus using brass knuckles and Jake using a knife. Although he only had brass knuckles, Gus was strong as an ox from years of timber cutting and operating a saw mill. He was only about five feet eleven inches tall and probably weighed 180 pounds but it was all muscle. When it was all over, our first cousin, Fred Blair took both of them to the hospital in Sweetwater where Gus was treated for cuts across the left chest and arm and Jake for head injuries."

Between 1927/30 Gaither owned an International Harvester threshing machine according to Ted Billings. During 1930 Gaither had such a severe intestinal problem that Gus and Ted had to plant their crops alone. Even in this condition Gaither would make contract with the local farmers to harvest their wheat.

Since these were depression years and most people couldn't afford to pay cash, therefore, Gus and Ted would harvest their crops for one tenth of the harvest. They then had the wheat converted to flour, paying the miller with a portion of the flour and then selling or eating the rest.

Ted recalls that Gus had an asthma problem which the dust and wheat chafe aggravated, to partially escape the dust problem Gus drove the new John Deer tractor pulling the thrasher while Ted worked at the rear feeding the wheat into the threshing machine.

Eighty one year old Clyde Simpson of Ten Mile, Meigs Co. , TN says he knew Gus since Gus was a child. Clyde's Uncle Henry Simson married Gus' Aunt Cora Billings. Clyde said, "Gus once sawmilled between Concord and the Tennessee River. This was before Watt's Bar dam was built and Gus lived in Hornsby Hollow in the Peakland Crossroad community on the old Pinhook Ferry Rd... To find the area today, travel west on Hy. 68 to River Rd.. , turn right and go about one quarter mile to Peakland Crossroads where you turn left. Gus lived on this road about a mile from the Tennessee River before TVA backed the water up behind Watt's Bar Dam."

Clyde continued, " It was at this time that a man named "Red" drove a milk truck for Howard Hornsby hauling milk to Chattanooga. Very early one morning when there was snow on the ground, Red got stuck in a ditch on River Rd.. near where Gus lived. At that time Gus had the only tractor in Ten Mile, it was a steel Wheeled two cylinder John Deere which you started by spinning the flywheel. Red walked to Gus' house and "hollered" him out of bed saying he was in a ditch and couldn't get out. Gus replied, well wait till I get me some clothes on and we'll go down and pull it out. Red said, that was the first tractor I'd ever seen and once Gus cranked it I thought to myself, that thing is missing, it's only hitting on two cylinders so it will never pull me out and right there we are both stuck." By this time Gus was ready to go and told Red, get on and let's go!"

Red said, "when we got to the truck, Gus hooked the tractor to it and just pulled it right out and that tractor never did hit on but two cylinders, and made a Splat, splat, splat noise. I come to find out it just had two cylinders to start with."

Billy Thompson doesn't recall Gus ever living in the Peakland area and thinks Gus probably lived in the house on Clearwater Rd.. at the time of the foregoing "tractor story."

According to Billy Thompson, who married Bertha Wallis' sister Bernice, Gaither bought a large tract of timber on the old Cunningham place in Ten Mile around 1928. Gaither and his two sons, Gus and Ted, lived on the 600 acre Cunningham farm in a house they rented from the Cunninghams.

The house they lived in is located on the right side of Hy. 58 immediately past the intersection with Hy. 68. as you travel South in Meigs Co., TN. The Billings family remained here four or five years. Bernice Wallis lived with Gaither and his two sons, keeping house for them, until she married Billy Thompson.

James Marion Keylon, Gus' brother-in-law, thinks it was about this time (1928) that Gus met Molly Hair who lived with her parents, Ruben and Edna Cunningham Hair, in her Grandmother Cunningham's home, Molly probably thought Gus intended to marry her since they had gone together for three or four years and the relationship had became an intimate one.

Ted Billings said that in his and Gus' younger years Gaither owned a steam powered sawmill that he bought from his brother Bayless Winslow (Wins) Billings Jr. A lot of time was spent providing wood and water for the boiler, therefore, in 1928 Gaither traded it for a new sawmill and a new John Deer tractor, which had steel wheels. This was used to power the sawmill, pull the threshing machine and anything else it could be used for.

Ted Billings said, "It was Dad's (Gaither's) habit to operate the sawmill September through June sawing lumber which was stacked to dry as it was sawed. The lumber was hauled from July through August to a local lumber yard and sold, Long oak boards with very few knots bringing $16.00 per 1,000 board ft.

Ted also recalled, "I worked for Gus at the sawmill in the nineteen thirties for a twist of tobacco a day. I remember one day in particular when the drive belt from the tractor to the sawmill broke and commenced slapping the ground with terrifying force on each revolution. I ran toward the tractor to shut the engine off but was knocked down when the slapping belt threw a rock which hit me on the leg. I thought my leg was broken but managed to get back up, stumble to the tractor and shut it off. Gus came running over and commenced to chew me out for having allowed the belt to come off in the first place. I never said a word, just turned and limped away. I never spoke to Gus for the next fourteen years, except when absolutely necessary."

Bernice Wallis Thompson said "I can tell you that Gaither, Gus and Ted were good and honorable men" Bernice knew the men well because she lived with them at the Cunningham place keeping house for them until she married Billy Thompson. She continued, Gaither loved his music and was a really good banjo player as was Gus, Ted played the guitar. Billy added, "they (Gaither, Gus and Ted) loved a good time, so this and their music led to having dances at their house pretty often. They drank a little, not too much, just enough to have a good time. Neighbors came from far and near to dance and have a good time."

Bea Hair Keylon, Molly's sister, said it got pretty loud at the Billings' home during the parties. Bea was the daughter of Ruben and Edna Cunningham Hair and was living with her parents at her Grandmother Cunningham's which was only a stones throw from the Billings home. Bea said her Grandmother Cunningham had a lot of money but her Uncle Lije Cunningham "ran through it" and Gus was the biggest duck in the puddle with Lije, meaning that they drank and partied the money away. Lije was a Baptist preacher who told his congregation, "don't live as I do."

Bea added, "You needn't think we got any rest when Gaither, Gus and Ted threw a party. You could always tell when Gaither was drinking because he was funny, carried on and told everything he knew."

Bernice Thomson says, "around 1933 Gaither, Gus and Ted lived in Bayless' "Green House" on Hy. 68 in McMinn Co., TN, Bayless having died March 29, 1923 and his wife Rachel Oct. 29, 1909.

Bernice relates the following story which occurred at the time the Billings men lived at the Green House. "I loved to play tricks on anyone, so me and Lavery Henry made a lifelike dummy of straw which looked almost like a real man. One evening as the Billings men were eating supper, I crept silently into the bedroom and placed the dummy at the foot of the bed. By this time it was almost dark and there was very little light in the bedroom. I hid nearby to watch the events unfold. Gaither came in first and, glimpsing what he thought was a visitor on the bed, simply said "how do you do." Receiving no answer, Gaither quickly figured something as going on at which point I came out of hiding and asked for Gaither's cooperation in my prank. Gus came in next and though I can't recall exactly what Gus said, he was pretty "stirred up" at having a prank pulled on him. Gus had to leave to go somewhere in his car."

"Knowing that I already had Gus pretty "stirred up", I decided the time was ripe to aggravate him a little more and really "get his Goat." Me and Lavery positioned the straw man dummy near the Billings' second automobile in such a way that it appeared to be someone stealing the wheel off the car. Though he never admitted it to anyone for the rest of his life, Gus flew into a rage when he returned home and saw what he thought was someone stealing the wheel off his car, right there by the house! In his rage Gus attacked the straw man, whereupon, he soon realized I had fooled him a second time in the same day and then he became even madder and tore the straw man to shreds. After he realized what a good laugh I would have at his expense, he carefully picked up all the pieces of the straw man and hid them under the porch, hoping to avoid me ribbing him the next day."

Bernice says "we hunted and hunted for that dummy before finally finding it where Gus had stuffed it under the porch." Bernice says, "I never did say a thing about the incident to Gus." Knowing Bernice's love of fun it is safe to say Gus never heard the last of the Straw Man.

Bill Kyle says, "It was around 1934/35 that Gus and Ted Billings owned a service station in Athens. After passing only a few houses as you came into Athens on Hy. 11, the station was on the left side of the highway and near a present day hotel, at that time there was a Dodge automobile dealership across the road from the station. Gus and Ted had the Mayfield Dairy account and Ted was seeing Zelda Newton. Gus sold me his share of the station around 1935/36."

Around 1934/35 Gaither and Gus lived on the old Hackler place near the Barnard farm. The Hackler place was then owned by Bill Kyle's Father, according to Bill Kyle who was Gaither and Gus' neighbor at the time. The Hackler Farm was reached by turning left off South bound Hy. 58 onto Old TN. Mile Rd.. in Ten Mile near the Migs/ Roane Co. , TN line. Travel Old Ten Mile Rd.. about 400 yds. to the first curve, look to the left and you will see the overgrown road bed of the old Ten Mile Rd.., which continued on to Kingston at one time. Travel this old road bed about 450 yds. to the North, the Billings home on the Hackler place was somewhere at this point, according to James Keylon.

Gaither and Gus had bought timber rights and had set up the sawmill on the old Barnard place nearby. Bill Kyle says his Father loaned Gaither's brother, Bayless Winslow Billings Jr. , money to buy the old Barnard farm that belonged to the parents of Winslow's wife, Cora Barnard. Bill said, "When Dad loaned the money to Winslow, Dad told Winslow, now don't get mad, I'll have to ask for this money back one of these days." Gaither may have made a favorable deal when he bought the timber because either his brother owned the timber or was married to the woman whose parents owned the timber.

Bill Kyle says, "when Gaither and Gus lived on the Old Hackler place, me, my little brother and one of our buddies planned to steal a watermelon out of the Billings' watermelon patch. I let Gus in on the scheme and together we planned to scare the pants off my brother and the other boy. Having "hatched" the plot with Gus, I innocently returned home. That evening after it got dark, I led the unsuspecting boys into the waiting trap. Gus had hidden in the thick woods armed with his double barreled shotgun. I remained behind as my little brother and the other boy crossed the fence into the watermelon patch. Just as the last boy entered the patch Gus screamed out at the top of his lungs and fired both barrels of his shotgun at the same time. Our buddy made a fast U turn and literally dove through the barbed wire fence and ran at top speed for the cover of the deep woods. My little brother was scared completely out of his mind and could only manage to scream, don't shoot, over and over as he ran in small circles through the watermelon patch, trampling everything in his path.

Estella "Stell" Billings Yates was the daughter of Bayless Winslow Jr. and Cora Barnard Billings. Stell said, "When Gus had his sawmill on Dad's place, he had accumulated a very large slab pile which Dad had asked Gus over and over to burn and get rid of. Gus never got around to it, so one day Dad decided to burn the slab pile. The fire got out of hand and burned Gus' sawmill to the ground along with the slabs."

It was probably around 1935 when twenty six year old Gus met a fifteen-year-old beauty from Ten Mile, TN, named Ellen Irene Keylon. Ellen was the daughter of James Loon and Katherine Melissa Keylon of Ten Mile.

Pearl Blair Creasman said, "one day back around 1935 I was in Athens when I ran into Gus on the street, he said he wanted to talk to me, somewhere in privacy. I suggested stepping into one of the nearby stores since it was raining. Gus said, I have my car here lets sit in it. The car was red and probably a convertible because it had side curtains to keep the rain out. Gus started to pour his heart out about how much he loved Irene and wanted to marry her but was worried about their eleven-year age difference. I just told him age doesn't matter if you really love her."

Gus and Irene were probably married in 1935/36 because Zelda Newton Billings recalled, "Gus and Irene had been married for a while when I began working for the phone company in Jan. 1937 when Ted and I lived in Powell, TN near Knoxville." Irene's Mother, Katherine Sensaboy Keylon, said of Gus and Irene's age difference, "well I'm glad at least one of them (Gus) is old enough to have some sense."

Bertie Sensaboy Reed said, "Katherine (Irene's Mother) kept a loaded pistol hanging on her bedroom wall. Gus later commented after his courtship and marriage to Irene, I always felt uneasy about that pistol." Bertie said, " I always liked Gus, he was a good man."

"Irene contracted pneumonia and nearly died at the age of three or four," says Irene's older brother, James Keylon. "Mom nursed Irene back to health without benefit of a doctor. Our brother, Harold, had died four years earlier."

James continued, "As a young girl, Irene was pretty wild. When she was fourteen she would hide notes to a young timber cutter. He crossed our property on his way to work and would look for his notes under a rock." Once when we were walking home, I had to chase the timber cutter off with a pistol when he stopped to pick Irene up. Another time, we were at a party and Irene wanted to leave with this guy but I made her get in our car and took her home."

Bea Hair Keylon recalled, "Irene and my sister, Nell Ruth Hair, used to slip off down behind Ten Mile elementary school to smoke when they were in the fifth or sixth grade. Even though they hid behind a big fallen tree, they were easy to spot. Mrs. Emma Ewing, the principal, could easily see their brightly colored tams (caps). The tams stood out like beacons in the night ." Bertie Reed says, "Around 1936 Gus and Irene moved into their first home, which was a house on Kate Keylon's farm. The house was located on the left side of Northbound Hy. 58 at the Northern boundary of the Keylon farm. The flu in the kitchen was a hazardous affair and Gus always told Irene that if the house ever caught fire to get out and not even try to save anything.

One day while Irene was cooking, the house caught fire. Irene ran to her vehicle and drove about a mile and a half South on 58 to Huff's store to get help. By the time they got back to the house, saving anything was hopeless. Even though it was Summer, Gus had to butcher their hog which was badly burned because the hogpen was so near the house. Gus and Irene may have lived with Kate for a while after that."

According to Trusty Sherman of Ten Mile, Gus and Irene had a pet pig when they lived as his neighbors somewhere in the vicinity of the intersection of Hy. 58 and Ten Mile Rd.. One day the pig came over to Trusty's home, knocked over his family's bee hive and ate all the honey.

Billy Thompson said, "Around 1939 Gus and Irene lived on Clearwater Rd.. In Meigs Co. , TN. The house where Gus and Irene lived on Clearwater Rd.. has been torn down and replaced by a white frame house which sits a bit further back off the road than Gus and Irene's home was. There is an old shade tree in front of the new house and Gus' hose stood directly behind this tree as you look from the road."

Gus and Irene's next home was on the left of Southbound Hy. 58 in Ten Mile about one quarter mile South of the intersection of Ten Mile Rd.. With Hy. 58.They probably began living here about 1940/41. The only vehicle Gus owned at this time was a flat bed lumber truck which he often drove home loaded with logs or lumber. This writer's first memories are of things which occurred while living here as a baby, laying in my baby bed with a gauze insect screen over it, a toy train, walks with Grandfather Gaither Billings along the creek in the field behind our house, an entire stalk of bananas that Gus once brought home, convicts in stripped prison uniforms working on Hy. 58 in front of our house.

Gus and Irene next moved to the Legg farm in Ten Mile where they lived in half of Mrs. Legg's home while she occupied the other half. The Legg home was on the left, on Ten mile Rd.. , about one half mile toward Watt's Bar lake from Hy. 58.It was while living here on June 23, 1943, that Gus barely got Irene to Sweetwater hospital in time for the delivery of her twins. Douglas Evan and Linda Sharon Billings were born only twenty minutes after Irene's arrival at the hospital, according to their TN birth certificates. This writer recalls that Irene and the twins were brought home in an ambulance which must have been rare in those days, rare to me at least for it was the first ambulance I'd ever seen.

About 1944 Gus moved his family to a house he rented from Earl Bostic. Earl's farm and the house was reached by turning right off Northbound Hy. 58 one mile North of the intersection of 58 and Ten Mile Rd.. After turning right travel straight, crossing Ten Mile Rd.. Then about 200 yds. up a slight hill to a frame house on the right. There was no water or electricity here, kerosene lamps provided light at night. We carried water from Earl Bostic's well at his house by Ten Mile Rd.. , where the road to our house crossed. Gilmer Massey said the Bostic house is so old, they found arrowheads embedded in the log walls while doing a remodeling job. Gilmer was Earl's nephew and lived with Earl as a young man..

Conditions at the Bostic place were the same as they had been in all Gus' previous homes except that it had never been necessary to carry water before. We used wood burning stoves for cooking and heating and kerosene lamps for light. When one of us had a bad cold Gus would rub raw onion on the side of the stove saying the smell would break up the cold. The rank smell of onions permeated the house for days afterward.

Gilmer Massey knew Gus well since Gilmer was living nearby with his Uncle Earl Bostic. Gilmer said, "I really liked Gus, he treated me like a son. Around 1944/45 Gus bought a new Jeep, he was tickled to with that lil ol Jeep. We were coming back from Kingston once and there at Kimbal's on Hy. 58 was a panel delivery truck turned over on its side. The driver was waiting for a wrecker to get the panel truck off the road. Gus told the driver, if you want I can move it. The driver didn't think Gus' lil ol Jeep could do the job, but said go ahead and try. Gus hooked his Jeep to the panel truck and not only moved it but turned the panel truck back up on its wheels."

Gilmer continued, " When Gus had his Jeep he came by one day when I was working a 25-acre piece of ground with horses pulling a cutting harrow and after that I'd use a drag harrow. Gus drove out to where I was working and said, let's hook this Jeep to that thing (harrow.) I was going to ride the harrow so my weight would hold it down. Aw! He got it up to twenty miles an hour, I couldn't see the Jeep for the dust! It tickled him to death when he got the dust stirring but I got kindly uneasy! When Gus finally stopped, he was laughing so hard he could hardly talk, when he regained his breath he finally managed to say, dusted you out didn't I?

According to Meigs Co. Deed book Q, pgs.467 & 501 Gus purchased forty acres of land from Fred and Salle Reed. This land adjoined the Katherine Keylon farm in Ten Mile, on the N. W.

Gilmer said Gus had planned to build a house on the "new ground" which was his 40-acre property. James Keylon said Gus' new ground adjoined Katherine Keylon's farm at the North West boundary.

This writer can recall, as a six year old, going with Gus to the new ground to set out fruit trees. He would first locate water then set a tree at each location. The water was located by means of a "divining rod", which was a Y shaped branch of a certain type of tree. Gus would hold one prong of the upper end of the Y in each hand at waist level, with the single lower leg of the Y out in front of him and parallel to the ground. He would then walk across the property until an unseen force pulled the straight end of the Y toward the ground indicating he had located water. . It was while living at the Bostic place that Gus and Irene began to quarrel, the end result being a separation and Irene taking her children, Wayne, Douglas and Linda back to her Mother's to live. Zelda Newton described Gus' temperament as, "wonderful to live with one day and then blow up for no reason the next."

My childhood memories are of an exceptionally kind man who spoiled me with toys and held me on his lap as I drove his prized Jeep across rough fields. On cold Winter nights Gus would warm the blanket from my bed by holding it up to the stove, then tuck me in with it. The only spanking he ever gave me was when we met some of his friends while driving on a dirt road in the woods one day. Gus stopped his truck and went over to talk to them, soon he told me to get out of the truck and come over to him so the men could see how much I'd grown. Being bashful, I refused and got a good "wearing out."

Around 1945, when Gus and Irene separated, Gaither moved back in with Gus and the two men "batched," and continued saw milling as they always had done. I was allowed to spend some time with Gus and Gaither. The once clean beds were now full of sawdust since neither man was too concerned with house keeping. This wasn't destined to continue for Gus died on May 23rd 1946. He was buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Athens, McMinn Co. , TN.

Following Gus' death, Irene worked for the Department of Defense in Oak Ridge, TN. Later while visiting her sister, Jewell Keylon Cappola, in Detriot, MI, Irene met Theodore Roosevelt Swing. They were married around 1947 or 1948. Irene and Ted had two children, Juanita May born July 20, 1948 and Theodore Roosevelt Jr. born Jan. 26, 1950 in Rockwood, Roane County, TN..

May 19, 1955, Meigs Co. TN Deed Book U, Pg. 546 & 554. Irene Billings Swing sells Gus Billings' forty acre "New Ground" to J. A. and Charles J. Hagler.

Around 1956 this marriage failed, Irene attempted raising her children alone but became ill about 1958. She was committed to a hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. At this time Douglas was sent to live with Ted Billings in Charleston, TN. Linda went to live with Jewell Keylon Cappola in Detroit, MI. Theodore Jr. and Juanita were returned to Theodore Swing Sr. in Ft. Myers FL. All the children eventually returned to live with Irene in Ft. Lauderdale.

Around 1970, Irene was diagnosed as having an acute sinus problem. The "sinus problem" was brain cancer which led to her death on Sept. 3, 1971 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Irene was buried beside Gus Billings in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Athens, McMinn County, TN.


Asbury Coffey

McMinn County Historical Society of 1969.

"Asbury M. Coffey was prominent in the early records of McMinn County and the town of Athens. The first mention we find of him is on March 6, 1827 when he was taken into Meridian Sun Lodge No. 50. On July 22, 1828 a marriage bond was made for his marriage to Mary G. Bradford. (Mary was the daughter of Henry Bradford who owned considerable land in the area of the County near Columbus.) Jonathan Allen signed the Bond as security.

In the 1829 Tax List, A.M. Coffey appears as does Marvil Coffey who was the husband of one of the daughters of Jesse Boone. In the 1830 Tax List an Eli Coffey appears with A.M. Coffey and Marvil Coffey. This Eli is the father of A.M. Coffey, and probably Marvil Coffey as well. Asbury M. Coffey was named in the will of Jesse Boone, dated 23, Nov. 1829, to serve with Israel Boone as executor of his estate.

When the Hiwassee Railroad was organized Asbury M. Coffey served as Secretary and Treasurer and was one of the six men of Athens who personally signed as subscribers when enough stock had not been sold to keep the Charter for the railroad in force. He was very active in the affairs of the Hiwassee Railroad and after he left Athens in 1842 and went to Missouri he heard of the trouble the railroad was in, the officers being accused of mismanagement, he came back to defend his reputation.

The following was taken from the History of Johnson County, Missouri published in 1882: 'A.M. Coffey, familiarly known as Colonel Coff, was born in Wilkes County, N.C., January 1804. His father, Eli, was a native of Virginia, emigrating to North Carolina in a very early day, and in the company with Daniel Boone, went to Kentucky. His mother was a native of New Jersey. Her father moved to North Carolina when she was quite young. A. M. Coffey was raised and educated in Kentucky. He is a graduate of Center College, located at Danville, Now Boyle County. In 1826 he went to Tennessee, where he was married to Miss Mary Bradford, daughter of Colonel Henry Bradford, of McMinn County. Mr. Coffey's residence being at Athens, he continued to reside there until 1842, when he removed to Missouri and settled in Pettis County. Before coming to Missouri, however, he purchased land in Tennessee. In 1850 he was elected to the legislature from Pettis County. In 1851, was appointed by President Fillmore as Indian Agent for the eastern border, now known as Kansas. At that time it was very rare to see the face of a white man. In 1855-56 was a member of the council of the Kansas Legislature, which was instituted by congress in 1854. Then followed the Kansas troubles. Colonel Coffey, however, was an unwilling participant in many of them. He came to the neighborhood of Knobnoster in 1859 and settled on a farm. In 1873 the State Grange met at this place, and he was elected secretary of the State Grange, and has held this office ever since. He is also member of the school board, of which he has been president for several years. His family consists of three children: Mary C., Henry B., and Rachel, who is now living in Oregon. Personally, Mr. Coffey is above average height, is pleasing in his manner, and is possessed of rare conversational powers.'"


Dr. A. P. Fore 1743-1840 DAILY POST ATHENIAN/Sesqui-Centennial Edition, June 10, 1969, p. 15-H.

From the McMinn County Historical Society of 1969.

"Dr. Augustine Pryor Fore came to McMinn County from Jefferson County about the time McMinn was formed. He bought large tracts of land in McMinn and Monroe Counties and settled in the Conasauga Valley. Later he bought a farm south of Athens later known as the Keith Place. Dr. Fore was the son of Peter Fore and his wife nee Sarah Pryor both of Virginia. Peter was a Revolutionary War soldier who had received a land grant in Ky. for his military service. He settled at Old Drinnon Springs near Christiansburg where he and his wife are both buried. He was born in 1743 in Virginia of Huguenot parentage. (White Protestant of French descent.)

Dr. Fore married in Jefferson County, Tennessee a widow, Nancy nee Ugh Monroe. She was the daughter of Francis and Elizabeth (Stanley) Ugh of Berate County, N.C. After moving to McMinn County they had one daughter, Sarah Ann Penelope who married Alexander H. Keith on the 20th of May 1841. Sarah Fore was a minor when her father wrote his will on 4 May 1839 and was his only child.

Dr. Fore died while on a visit to his family in Kentucky which was reported in the Knoxville Gazette of 24th June 1840. He had named W.P.H. McDermott and Dr. Wm. H. Deadrick as his executors but they refused to serve and the widow, Nancy Fore, was appointed administrator.

Mrs. Nancy Fore died 21 June 1858 and her son-in-law, Alexander H. Keith, was the administrator of her estate."

James Lowry 1771-1849


DAILY POST ATHENIAN/Sesqui-Centennial Edition, June 10, 1969, p. 15-H.

McMinn Co. Historical Society of 1969. James Lowry, 1771-1849, came to the Mt. Harmony Community, McMinn Co. from Jefferson Co. about 1823. His wife, Nancy, 1773-1851, was the daughter of John and Rebecca Jane Davis. John Davis died at the age of 95, and is buried in old Mt. Harmony Cemetery. James Lowery and his sons were farmers, owning hundreds of acres. Their former farms are now among the showplaces of Mt. Harmony Community.

The children of James and Nancy (Davis) Lowery, all born in Jefferson Co., are as follows:

i. Isaac, who died in McMinn County 1841, leaving his wife Manerva Jane (Armstrong) and fourteen children: James H., Thomas J., Daniel A., John W., William D., David H., Samuel N., Isaac A., Mary J., Nancy A., Elizabeth M., Fanny L., Martha M., and Eleanor M. Lowry. ii. Polly Anne, married 1817 in Jefferson County, Samuel McSpadden. iii. Daniel, 1797-1864, buried in old Mt. Harmony cemetery, married Susan, daughter of Charles Carter, 1762-1841, a Revolutionary War soldier, born in Cumberland Co., Va., who died in McMinn Co., and his wife Susannah Wright. iv. Elizabeth, 1801-1881, married Adam Barr, 1795-1854, and they are both buried in Monroe County. v. Fanny, 1803-1870, married 1822 Robert Magill. She is buried in Catoosa Co. Ga. They were the grandparents of Rankin, Newton, Robert, and Tommy Magill, long time residents of Athens. vi. James, 1806-1877, married Corinna M. A. Cunningham, 1809-1885, and both are buried at Mt Harmony. vii. (Note: this # was omitted in the article. Not sure if there is a 7th child or not.)
viii. Rebecca Jane, 1813-1851, married John Cunningham.

The children of Daniel Lowry, the third child of James and Nancy:

i. Nancy Jane, born 1824, married 1841, married John Newton Delzell. They moved to Richland Co., Ill. ii. Mary L., 1825-1864, married 1849 David N. Varnell, as his first wife. She is buried at Calhoun Presbyterian cemetery. iii. John Davis (called Jr. to distinguish him from his uncle, Capt. John D.), 1829-1913, married first in 1856 Sarah C. Forrest, and second in 1860 Sarah Lowry. iv. Frances Elizabeth, married Jacob Henry Fisher. (Check for future article.) v. James R., born 1833, married 1854 Elizabeth McClatchy. vi. Susan, born 1836, died young. vii. Martha N., born 1837, supposedly did not marry. viii. Margaret A., born 1840 married Alexander A. Newman. ix. Virginia M., born 1841, married 1859, Francis M. Pennington. x. Daniel C., born 1843, married 1868 Mattie W. Ross.
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