October 9th, 1867
Feather River, Sutter County, Cal.
A.G. Lee. I will now write you a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and in tolerable health and do hope this may find you alive and in good health. I have your leter of last March the 7th, 67, before me which is the last leter I have had from you, and the last one that I have seen or heard of from you was the leter you wrote to E.W. after you had heard that Rachal was dead, and as you speak of Scalp takin it may bee that your Scalp has left the head; but I hope not. Well your leter that you wrote to me before the one on the 7th of March got lost so I could not find it and, I waited to see if I would find it but I have not found it yet. In it you wanted to know something about your mother which I have entirely forgotten but E.W. says that you wanted to know how old she was when she died. Well she was Borne May 12, 1802 and died June 4th, 1852. You wanted to know if your uncle Levi had any son named Alfred. Now I can say to you that he has not. He has a son named Andrew but I have forgot his middle name though it appears to me it was Lawrence or Baley. I had a Cozen in Tennessee named Alfred but whether he had any middle name or not I don't know and he married one of my Cozens daughters on my mother's side by the name of Gailbreath and there was one of his brothers by the name of Abraham Lee and I think his wife was a Pixon. Alfred and Abraham was sons of uncle Lehew Lee by Richard Henry Lee's second wife whose maiden name was Miller. Alfred and Abram are onley 1/2 cozens to me. They were Brothers to Isaac Lee of Mud Pararie, Ill. and uncles to Peter T. Lee also of Mud Pararie, Ill. Now if any one of them had a son cauled Alfred I don't know it. Well there must bee maney thousands of us as my grate grandfather was certainley the first Lee that ever was in North America with his familey. He was one of the setlers of Jamestown, Va. I have forgotten great-grandmother's maiden name. She was Welch and born and raised in the City of Wales. The had 4 sons and how many daughters I do not now remember but I remember of seeing two. Old Aunt Rhodey Watkins and Aunt Judey. The 4 sons was named John, Peter, Evens and Richard Henrey who is my grandfather. Well Richard Henry Lee married Mary Grisham who was the sister of the two John Grishams Brothers, full Welch also, and he had by her 7 sons and 3 daughters (to wit) Grisham, William, Jessee, Archer, Young, George and Abner. These was the sons. The daughters was named Dorothy, comonaly cauled Dolley, Mary & Elizabeth. Well I never saw uncle Grisham nor none of his family. He married Priciley Staples and staid in Virginia and was a gunsmith to the U.S. in time of the Revolution. Was then quite an old man and had children as old as my father so his family must have spred to maney hundreds by this time. Uncle William also maried a Staples and mooved to Kentucky in an early day. Him and his family I have saw excep one son and 2 daughters. He had 5 sons and 4 or 5 daughters. Uncle Jessee maried but I have forgoten his wife's name. he went to Georgia, Oglethorp County, had a large family but I never saw him or aney of his children. Uncle Archer died in the Arme of the Revolution. Uncle Young maried a Mathewes and had children how maney I do not know. I never saw him. he staid in Virginia. I saw one of his sons, Guy Lee. Uncle George maried and moved to Kentucky. Who he married I do not know. I never saw him nor any of his children. They lived on the National Road between Vidalia and the Urebar River in Ill. Your grandfather you know all about. Now Aunt Dolley maried a Thornton. The lived in Tennessee though I never saw aney of them. Aunt Mary maried her cousin Thomas Lee son of G. uncle Peter Lee and had maney children. I never saw aney but her grandson William Lee, Willis Reeves brother-in-law which you have saw. Aunt Elizabeth maried her cousin, also son of G. U. Peter, Richard Henrey Lee. the both moved to Kentucky in an earley day then to Mo. She was Elizabeth Holley's grandmother & Dr. Wright's Grand mother. She was the youngest; and grandmother died and Grandfather maried a Mary Miller and had by her 5 sons and 1 daughter (to wit) Richard, Barnet, Miller, Gehew & Stepen. Uncle Richard maried a Mary Davenport, had 5 or 6 boys and as maney girls. I have saw them amaney a time. Uncle Barnet maried Mary Dewroset and had one son and 5 or 6 daughters. I have saw them all often. Uncle Miller I have saw but it was when I was little. Who he maried I do not know. It is likely that Stephen D. Lee of the confederate armey was one of his sons as he move to Alabama in a earley day.
N.B. I hope the President will have enough in Congress to sustain his vetos this winter.
Well you will get a leter that I wrote to Robert Cheshire. I had
no envelop and sent it to town by George and Cam. George knew who
it was to, put it in envelop, gave to Cam to Direct and he Directed it
to you instead of to R.C.
Sneedville, Tennessee, 21 October, 1858
Last night I received a letter from you dated 5th inst. which this is
intended for an answer. We are all well except my second son, Jesse B., who
is teaching a free school on Big Creek in sight of where old Peter LEGERE
lived at $24.00 per month and his board _____. I understand he had something
like the aque andI have sent for him to come home.
You wrote to me that I had omited naming John & MaryAnn DAVIS in
letter which I perceived after it was too late but I will now inform you
they are still alive. MaryAnn is about 83 years of age has lost all her
flesh weight about 80 pounds (but strong). She is remarkably smart of that
age. John DAVIS is 73 years old in this month is some what afflicted with
the gravel as he calls it but enlargement of the prostrate glands. He cut
his foot about half in two in the summer and is just getting about. There
was a terrible storm blew down eleven of his apple trees and stopped up his
spring load and he went out to cut them up and hit his foot on the side just
before the ankle bone and made a dreadful mash.
He has not broke a great deal but keeps his usual cherfulness if I am
on to give my opinion of him I would say he is one of the purest men on
earth. I have known him long and known him well and have a right to judge.
His house has always been a house for the wayfaring and an asylum for the
needy and if it should turn out _____. Judgement day there is rewards and
virtue, honesty, philanthropy, and charity is its recipients he certainly
will come for a share.
We have had a quite sickly season. Typhoid fever has raged mortally
country though of your acquaintees I know of none who has died except old
George BOMARD and Samuel BOMARD but a great many you was not acquainted
with. The aque is on the scene more this fall than I have known in sixteen
years. I will here mention the death of our old esteemed friend, James
(Note from submitter, Sam D. Lawson: This is James Larkin WILLIS, son
Larkin WILLIS. James was born 20 May, 1800, in Tennessee, and died 6
October, 1858. He was married first to Mary WILSON and second to Sarah
"Sally" STAPLETON. He was the father of my Iredell Campbell WILLIS)
He was driving a wagon coming down Johns lane from home his horses were
going verry fast and he caught the nibbler and was bearing back when he
slipped and fell in before the wheel and it rolled over mashing his leg then
passing in side his knees and passed through his crotch mashing his pubis or
bason bone. He lived about a week and took the lock jaw and died leaving his
worldly conserns in an awful fix. Leaving but little property and great many
debts. Old Larkin is yet alive and quiet pert. I will now say something
about the crops in this section. We made no oats all spoiled with rust which
was a gruesome thing from Maine to Missouri. Made tolerable wheat through
nothing like an averidge crop. No cabbage verry sorry, inst, potatoes, corn
crops will fall below an averidge considerable _____ had a wet spring but
the drought sot in too soon for corn and it never wet the ground till ____
people seeded their corn ground and in plowing all day would not turn up one
moist clot. The
seed lay in the ground till lately and is now sprooting we have a tolerable
whiteoke mast in places low ground and ____ verry full which will bring
things nearer on an averidge.
There was a terrible circumstances hapened in our country. A few weeks
man from Lee County came over in this county to visit a man from Lee for
something he had done there the man had some friends here who stood up for
him and they got into a fight a man by the name of MAHAFFY stabbed the man
from Lee who was by the name of HAMBLIN and killed him on the ground and
stabbed two others dangerously and got his nose completely cut off with a
knife the man that was killed after he received the mortal stab struck his
adversay over the head with a gun and had near killed him breaking the gun
into fragments. They brought MAHAFFY and put him in jail but is bailed out
and will have his trial in January next. It is supposed he will come clear
as he acted in self defence. BERRY'S son, GREW, has been in this country for
several months but has now returned to Houston Texas He is quite an
interesting man comes on the carpenters trade in Houston has bought him two
likely negro fellows and
learned them the trade. Says he is worth six thousand dollars. He came by
steam. To within ten miles of Rogersville but hearing of the yellow fever
being in his steam route he bought the best guilding ever saw. Giving $2.50
for him a coal black seventeen hands high and as nice made as a ___ I have
_____ him in the great rise he has made in the world all the barance lives
in a steep hollow in the river nobs (sic) not worth fifty dollars.
I have better health for a few months than usual having had a rather
loosness in my bowels _____ that is the case. I feel as well as a ten year
old boy. There is a great noyse in town about a discussion that is to take
place. The subject is wheater a man should have water poured on him or stick
him under head and ____when he joins the church. I shant go to hear it as I
caint feel anymore interest in it then I could to see two hottentots
quarreling about smearing the arm with cow dung wheather they should begin
the devotional act at the elbo or the ends of the fingers. I always look on
immersion as a vulgar black gardish thing though as it is used in place of
circumcision there is certainly modification in the vulgarity of the thing
and of the two I certainly should be for the baptism in place of
circumcision. It would require more credulity than I ever expect to believe
the Lord takes my hand in such things. Moral philosphy I like to here
preached the morralist will get his reward.
We have a _____ visible here for some weeks which has attracted a great deal
of nottice and gossip. I will quit writing for I in no fix for writing a
letter. I can see dozens of words I have spelled wrong. I wont you to write
often anything about your ____. Name your children I never hear from your
oldest son, Robert, till you wrote he had commited suicide in California
where he moved to what he followed for living whether he was married or not.
I will close by suscribing myself your brother
Lee Valley, March 9th, 1848
This being a wet morning I sit down to write you. The times and events of
our country (as) I may think of them. I received your letter ____ 1st came
to hand in due time, in which you gave ____us of your country and the well
doing of your family all of which I read with satisfaction, your letter ____
family well and all our relations in this country is well and getting along
as well is the times will allow and without _____ particular events among
us. I will begin with particulars of our country for the last twelve months,
(to wit) our ____ election came off with Jacob MILLER, son of old John
MILLER, being elected a floating member of the house of representatives
(from washington and hawkins), and fletcher white, son of old W____ white
from hawkins, F, white beat A___ , andrew johnson was elected to congress by
____ a W___ temple of greene county, the _____ with rank electing s.d.
mitchell president and ____hancock clerk. old Ap___ kyle and orville rice
(?) was verry ____ (fold!
or old letter illegible) ____ our district election and county came off
last saturday, a samuel smith, esq., was elected sheriff, geo (?) patrick
serket court clerk, and robert c. ___reyes____and a w. lowderback county
justice, robert rogers and myself was elected magistrates in the 2nd sivil
district old ____ marker was elected one for the town district. there has
been a new county taken off hawkins on the north and from the east part of
claiborn and the county ____at____ (called sneedville) and brother richard
was elected as magistrate for the town district. I will now give (you) some
of the particulars about our wifes family. _____ I hear from them only _____
he, old lady duff is well and harty ____to. here ____family, nearly all
lives and the old tract of land and ____ they were when you left this
country. claiborn youngs, oldest daughter married a man named pendaldton and
he died shortly after. I will now give you the particulars about my family.
my wife and ____ and so!
mewhat _____we have only my wife and ____ and somewhat ____ we have only two
children living with us. our youngest daughter has been married about
__months to ___geo payne, and he is selling good___ down at james willies
where wm renner left my ____ owing.. alfred and christopher is all living in
____state and is doing well for themselves. one of ___ well and stout of her
age but is hard to please and wishes to be remembered to you and family but
in particular manner to ______ debt and about $400 interest ____do me made a
good-crop-last season___or grain ____in all-at country and I have off of
this season. I delivered your harty howtedo to old john davis and larkin
willis. they are both well and requested me to return their compliments to
you when I wrote. old swimp was with me when I opened your letter and read
it to him and the old fellow shed tears and requested in a particular manner
to give you his compliments when I wrote to you. I was at old richard
mitchells not long !
sience him and family is well through him and his old lady both looks very
old and what is worse is their situation in their last years is almost
pinury and want. THIS YOU NEED NOT SAY MUCH ABOUT. w.b. has a large family
and all living there with the old man. I will have to go down in your old
settlement. I was at peter agans (?) about two weeks ago on a arbitration
between agan and wm begley who married polly agan and old c. mcenelly was
with us two days. agans mill is rotten down and is washed of clean and he
does not appear to be doing much in life to advantage. I hered from esq(?)
eppersan when I was down there he had turned out to hard work and goes ____.
the old man eppersan is living pharo roe ownes the old place you moved from
and his son in law thomas eppersanlives on it though is not doing much good
for himself not anting anybody else ben bray is still living over in the
long hollow. marshall m webb has sold his land for $700 in cash and is going
to move to the geor!
gia purchase he told me when I was down there. that he was going to look at
and purchase a tract of land in sept next. he thinks he will have a $1000
cash to pay down. I will now say something about marriages and deaths in
this country. old sally mills was buried on the 19th of last month. dicey
____ last fall. mr. walker is broke up and is living with wm. walker, and
they both joined the baptist church. joel mills wife died last summer, and
joel has sience married one of old peter wolfs daughters. old thomas martin
died the 16th day of july last. old mr. sullivan died about twelve months
ago. he appointed me of his last will and testament. old charity trent died
last spring, and old wm trent was lately married the widow winstead, (say
old peggy) pharo roes and his wife has lately parted because she let joseph
davis hug her and I don't know what more, but she went before a justice of
the peace and was sworn to do so no more and they are living together again.
sience I wrote the above I have thought of some things which I think
make you laugh ____. john mill has lately married peggy campbell and is
living at ransom hayses old place, and ransom is living down the creek near
peter again in a kind of pocket in bend in creek, is married a second wife
and is presented by the grand jury of hancock for illegal marriage. old ben
coffys wife died last fall and he is living with his son caswell and not
long sience got drunk and fell of a log and broke one of his legs short off,
and is just got so he can go about.
martha is desirious that when you write to me that you send names of
Amandy's children. I have wrote _____ and a better scholar than I am and you
must make the best of it if you can and receive it from your affectionate
Another from and to the same
Letter to Lewis MITCHELL from brother, John MITCHELL...
Lee Valley, 7 July, 1853
Brother Lewis Sir.
Not hearing from you for a long time, I this morning
conclude to write to
you and it may be the means of your _____ interest you, but I will give you
the most ______ events as I may think of them, First myself and family is
well, my wife and myself has grown old though staid and hart, as people of
our age, we have ____ become tolerable ____ I weigh about 185 lbs ____ our
connection in the county is well as fare as I know, there ___ two of our
nephews at my house at this time G.B. MITCHELLS son Barry who lives in
Houston in texas work at ____ carpenter trade and has made money there and
___ good looking man and tolerable smart considering his ____ in life
joseph rogers son david s rogers who has ____ about through the world and
has not done much for himself, his father is still old dave, git drunk every
chance he gets and is doing no good for himself nor no other person, his
family makes what they live and scarce at that,
old larkin willis is still living but verry frail
your old friend swimp
anderson is also living, stout and hardy, abijah anderson lives on the ridg
near old swimps and is making property, he has five likely negroes and a
great deal of property and some money for a common man here, I will now say
something about my children, my daughters is al married and is living in
this county,the furthest about ten miles, james harrel (?) lives in
sneedville the county site of hancock county which is located at greesy
rock. is carying on a tan yard, my boys has all left me, only joseph who is
living with me but works for himself, carrys on a black smiths shop and is
single, alfred and christopher lives in southern alabama works at the house
carpenter trade, alfred is single yet, christopher is married to a good
cotton growers daughter who owns 50 negroes and christopher has made money
at his trade to buy two hundred acres of land with a good corn, wheat and
saw mill, all at ____ dam, lewis
is living in bradley county in this state owns a good farm and makes good
use of it he is verry religious and preaches a tolerable good sermon, I
went to see them last fall ____ the way of stages and rail roads, cost me
about ___ made the trip in about four weeks, curren, as you probably have
herd went to california and has had the good fortune to be elected clerk of
the lower house of the first general assembly in the state and when the
legislature adjurned he was employed in the secretary of states office
making in all twenty monthes in which time he tells me he relised ____ he
came to see us this spring twelve months ago and stayed near three months,
he lives in jefferson county ark, I will now give you some account of my
situation in life so that you may know how I have managed, I have bought
some land joining me making with my old land two hundred and thirty acres, I
have about one hundred and twenty acres of cleared land all of which I have
kept upin cultivation, but!
owing to the want of help, I don't expect to do much in the way of farming
only by renting my land,
I am reducing my stock so that I shant keep much, I have about $15.00 at
command and don't owe one red dime in the world, I was at the sirkit court
in sneedville about a month ago when I saw a number of your old
acquaintences, to wit, all the mills boys, pit agan, arch macky, beve mays,
elijah roby, and shade epperson, old shade is as mean as ever and is living
over in ____ hollow from where you lived, two of his oldest boys ____ old
bill wilder is still living but is nearly my ____,
old g. mcgaw not long sience, he is tolerable well but frail as to getting
about, james ettey family is well, the kyles is still in the negro driving
buisness, william kyle, franklin and john blevins is now lying in order to
drive in the fall, I will say something of old uncle richards boys
stockley is living in rogersville and offers for every lucrative office
where there is a vacancy but fails to be elected, he has some property but I
have been told that if his debt was faced he would not be worth a yock of
oxen, wilie b. lives over on the hill east of where the old man did live,
his wife has lately died and left him with ten children all of whom is
trying to keep at the cortains of the town and I don't suppose wilie is
worth five hundred in the world and has no energy nor management and little
dick has drunk until he is almost dried up and is a hundred per cents worth
the nothing, so much for them, ambrous mills, son of old john mills, died
and he in his lifetime bought nine shears of his fathers land and became in
debt and his interest was sold at adminstrary sale not long sience for
$4900.10, I will now give you an act, of a number of deaths of your old
acquaintences and the particulars of some of them, first old uncle richard
mitchell died about four months!
ago and strange as it seems it is the trouth, about three weeks before his
death he and his wife joined the presbetarian church by the agency of the
rev. frederick h. ross, the old man was ___ at by may ___ and died in very
indigent circumstances, the old lady and ____ and her two daughters is
living on the place together, the rev. john day died this spring verry
sudden with derangement in the brain, was taken ____ sunday and died
saturday following, john epperson married, peter agens sister died,
claibourn mccay, old george rogers died last saturday night, old isaac amyx,
old cleam moore, we have had a verry dry season, we have made verry good
crops of wheat this season but corn looks bad and there is a great deal of
sickness in this country this season and a great many deaths persons that
you don't know, old negro jim died about twelve months ago and old bess is
living with some free negroes, I have made this season about 200. 25
bushells of first best wheat, I wont to here
from you immediately on the receipt of this letter and in verry particular
manner relative to the situation of you also about your boys.
A LETTER FROM GRANDFATHER
In 1957, while visiting my aunt in Glacier Park, Montana, the following letter was given to me, and thus began my adventures in family history and genealogy. The letter was in typed form. Eventually, I located the original letter and was allowed to copy it. In 1960 the letter was in the possession of Mrs. Grazelle Denning, of Clayton, New Mexico, the granddaughter of the writer of the letter, Elder William Leroy Rogers, Primitive Baptist preacher. He wrote it to his grandson, James Byron Rogers (brother of Mrs. Denning), who had just married a lady of the same surname. The original spelling and punctuation has been retained, and the only editing has been the division of the letter into paragraphs, for more clarity.
Nancy Timmons Samuels
Cleburne Tex. July 15th 1922
W.[sic] B. Rogers and wife
Des Moines, New Mex.
Dear Grand Son and Grand daughter: It is with much pleasure that I undertake to answer your very interesting letter announcing your marriage to a Miss Rogers and of course she did not have to change her name. I am glad that you made choice of one of the good old name of Rogers. I assure you that you did not marry kinfolk for my father George Rogers was the only child of his father William, for whom I was named. He was in the war of 1812 lost his health and died in 1816 when my father was 6 months old. So his family is the only descendants of William Rogers. Your uncle Cicero is a splendid type of my father Geo. Rogers. Rogersville was named for Goe Rogers who owned the first Hotel in that town. Goe Rogers was a brother of George Rogers, my great-grandfather whose home was five miles from Rogersville. My father was born in that community the 24 of Oct. 1815.
My father’s mother was a very beautiful woman, her maiden name was Bettie
Gonce, a better and a more useful woman was not to be found in that country.
Her father Isaac Gonce emigrated to Jackson County Ala, in about 1818,
when my father was 3 years old. Old grand father Gonce brought Bettie
Rogers and little boy George to Ala with his family of 7 other daughters
and 2 sons. At that time there was a great emigration to Ala and
South Tenn, and our people settled along the Tenn and Ala line, enfact
the State line rune through the community in which our kinfolks settled,
some on one side of the line and some on the other side, and yet they were
neighbors. My grandmother 3 years after she emigrated to Ala was
married to James B. Matthews, and they had a large family of sons and daughters,
but not one is living. James B. Matthews was a very prominent man
in his country, was quite wealthy in Negroes and lands. It was the
ambition of all the Matthews of that generation to own Negroes.
Now I have given you a brief sketch of the Rogers side of the house and will bring up the other side. Sam McCrary and a very beautiful black eyed girl name Bettie Allen of precious memory were married when they were quite young. I am very glad to tell you they were my grand father and grand mother. My dear grand mother died in 1831 two weeks after her child was born, which child was a girl and was named Druzie for whom I name my daughter Druzie. There were 12 children born to them and the first born was William born in 1806, when his father was 18 years old.
My great grand father Nias Allen, father of my grand mother Bettie, was a soldier in the war of the Revolution 1776. The Allens were very fine people and were well to do, infack were wealthy in Negroes and lands. My dear precious mother was a member of the McCrary family. Your father Sam Rogers is the best type of my grand father Sam McCrary. However grand father had as fine a head and face as I ever saw on any man. But your pa is the best likeness of any one of his descendants. Grand father McCrary was a splendid farmer owned a fine farm and never needed anything always had plenty at home, was at home nearly all the time, was never at his county cite was never in a court house, never had a case in any court in all his life of 87 years. He had a second family by his last wife. 5 children were born to them, but they have all gone the way of all earth, as his first children have gone.
I have so far given your connection with the Rogers side and the Allen & McCrarys and a little sketch of the Matthews side. But I will give your connection with one of the greatest families of Middle Tenn. Shearod Williams was the husband of Polly Looney. They were my first wife’s grand father and grand mother. They had 21 children, 17 sons and 4 daughters, 20 of them lived till they were grown. I knew about half of them. Great grandfather Williams died 500 miles from home in 35 and buried there, but 5 years after his death 2 of his sons went and brought his remains home and laid his body to rest by the side of his dear companion who had some years before also passed away. I visited there graves before I left that country. The inscription on the tombstone was “I heard a voice from Heaven saying blest is the dead that die in the Lord, yea saith the spirit from henceforth they rest from there labors and thiere works doth follow them.” They were old Baptists.
The Williams brothers and sisters made quite a success in life, and two of them Mat and Jim were public men. Mat was in the Tennesee legislature when the war between the States came up, and his vote defeated the bill to arm the State, you see he was not in favor of the war, in fack he made a speech against going into the war. Jim Williams, who married Katie Tally over in Jackson Co Ala, on the Tenn River, represented his county in the Ala legislature a number of times. Of the 3 members that went to the Legislature from old high Jackson, as it was called, Jim Williams was the middle man and was named the average hog, and that was his nick name as long as he lived. He was a Methodist. Mat Williams was a Cumberland Presbyterian. Jinie, a faverite sister of that big family of boys, married Jerry Matthews, the father and mother of my first wife, Sarah Ann Matthews, who was born April the second 1837. Her father Jerry Matthews lived a neighbor to my father when I was born in May the 14th 1838.
My mother said Jerry Matthews was one of the best neighbors she ever lived by. He was very wealthy in Negroes and lands. He died in 1847 when his daughter Sarah was 10 years old. Jerry and Jinie, as they were called, had a family of 3 sons and 3 daughters. They were Methodist and Presbyterians, with the exception of my wife who came from the Presbyterians to the old Baptists in June 1872, just before we left for Texas the following Sept, 50 years ago next September.
The Allens, with the exception of 4 or 5, were Free will Baptist. Grand father William Rogers was an old Baptist, and his wife, my father’s mother, who was the widow of James B. Matthews, was an old Baptist also. Her mother Francis Gonce, whose maiden name was Francis Wilson, was an old Baptist.
You see I am bringing up your connection with a fine family named Wilson. Francis Wilson Gonce was my father’s grand mother. She is another one of our people of precious memory. She was a member of the Crow Creek church which was organized at least 100 years ago. I visited her tomb when I attended the church meetings of long ago, a greater woman in a community to the sick and those that were in distress never lived in all that country than Aunt Frankie Gonce, as she was called by her friends & neighbors. That large Gonce family have all have long sice passed away.
I will now give a short sketch of my father’s family. My eldest sister Bettie Medlan who is about 86 is rather active at that age. She was the first born. I was the second born in May the 14th 1838, therefore I was 84 last May. I goined the old Baptist in October 1858 in Ala, was married to Sarah Gover, Matthews, in November the 26 1860. 10 children were born to us, 9 are living and are getting along in this world fairly well. I was ordained to the ministry in an old Baptist church in 1872 in Franklin Co Tenn, 50 years ago. My brother Sam, who passed away a short time ago, who was nearly 80 years old, and 5 sisters were and are old Baptists. I saw my dear father baptized in Young Co Tex in the fellowship of the old Baptists many years ago, when he came up from his watery grave, he had beautiful face infack he had an angelic look in his beautiful face. Not one of his mother’s children are living. Myself and Sam and Jim and our father were in the war between the States. Brother Jim was killed in the battle of Chickamoga. He was a splendid young man of 18 years old.
Brother Jim had a dream the night before that great battle and wanted to relate the dream to brother Sam, but they were arranging everything to go into battle, so brother Sam would not take time to hear the dream. After the battle brother Sam regretted very much that he did not hear the dream. It was imagined that he had a presentiment of his death in the dream.
Before I close this scrible, I will give you a caution on religion --
the world’s religion. You perhaps do not understand the difference
between the religion of the world and the religion of Christ and his apostles.
It costs more to support the religion of the world than it dose to support
the governments of the world. When you hear preachers beging, notice
the contrast between them and the Savior, who for our sake became poor
that we through his poorty might be rich. The foxes have holes and
the birds have nests but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.
He was a very poor man, but you will never find in all the New Testiment
that he ever beged for money. The old adage is, “to work, I am too
busy to beg I am not ashamed.” Now I will close, hoping that you
can read this badly writen letter. I am your affectionate grand father,
William Leroy Rogers
Notes by NTS:
These families, and many more allied families, have long since been worked out. Most came to Franklin County, Tennessee, and Jackson County, Alabama, by way of southwest Virginia, western North Carolina, Kentucky and other counties in Tennessee. I have found that Elder Rogers’ letter is about 90% accurate and factual. He erred in a couple of dates and confused a time period or two. The “tradition” he gave, that his great-grandfather, George Rogers, of Rogersville, Tennessee, was a brother of “Goe” [Joseph] Rogers, for whom the town was named, appears to be incorrect. Many members of the families mentioned, herein, came to Texas. The entire Rogers clan, of George and Eliza (McCrary) Rogers, came to Texas in 1872 and 1873, first settling in the Acton and Glen Rose area, where relatives and near-relatives had settled, beginning their trek as early as 1856. William Leroy Rogers is buried at Fall Creek Cemetery, Hood County, beside his first wife (the mother of his children), Sarah Ann Matthews, who had married first S.B. Gover.
(This letter was sent to MIldred Byler Forde daughter of Minnie Rogers Byler from William Leroy Rogers. The original letter was sent to Karen L. Hinton-Cook by June Byler Baird on November 11, 2000)
March 8, 1923
First five brothers came across the waters of the Atlantic in a very
early day. I did not learn the time they came across the waters, nor the
given names of either one of them. My father gave me this information and
he was past on the kin.
But they were our most remote ancestors George Rogers and his brother Joe settled in Rogersville that is Joe Rogers run the first hotel in that town and it was named Rogersville after him. George Rogers lived 5 miles from the town on a farm. George Rogers was my great grandfather and of course Joe Rogers was my great uncle. Grandfather George married the widow Lyons. She was the widow of General Lyons and her maiden name was Miss Smith (lost page 3).
Now I come to the Gonce. Isaac Gonce married Frances Wilson, and he with his family emigrated to Alabama in about 1818, and his widowed daughter Bettie Rogers and her little boy George came to Alabama with them. Isaac Gonce, my great grandfather and Frances Wilson my great grandmother had 2 sons and 8 daughters. They all married and had large families with one or two exceptions.
Bettie Rogers, my grandmother, a beautiful young widow, married James B. Mathews, who was the most prominent man in his community. He made a fortune farming and he owned Negroes. It was the ambition of the Matthews to own Negroes. He was my father, step-father and no boy had a better step-father than was James B. Matthews. He died in 1852, but his greatly bereaved wife who had been left a widow twice lived many years to help the poor it seems. She did that -.My grandmother's first child by James Matthews born 4 years to a day after my father was born. Grandfather and grandmother raised a large family of 5 sons and 6 daughters. The youngest son, Wilson, lost his life in the War between the States. The Gonce descendants, with few exceptions, were well to do and fine people.
Fannie Gonce, my grandmother's sister, married Tom Ship, by whom she had a large family and all but one or two moved to east Texas in 1859. Uncle Wilson Gonce emigrated to Missouri in 1852. Randal Gonce died in middle age but left a large family. Four of the sisters married 4 Hackworth brothers, and their brother Wilson Gonce married a sister of the Hackworth brothers. So you see how well the Gonces and Hackworth's married among themselves 5 in each family.
I have so much to write about. 1 will leave off the Gonces now and take up the Wilson kinfolks. The Wilson family was only the greatest lost of kinfolks we had in the old stated. The given name Wilson was given to more boys than any other given name. It was because of the fine reputation of the Wilson kinfolk. I knew Aunt Anna Wilson and did some important writing for her when I was a school boy. She married Uncle Sam Wilson, her first cousin, but had no children, was left a widow many years. Sam Willis, father, Lark Willis, married Aunt Annie Wilson, sister , and those two sisters were the sisters of the great grandmother Gonce. So Sam Willis' mother and my father's grandmother Gonce were sisters. So you see how we are related to the Willis family.
Now I will take up the McCrary kinfolks. Sam McCrary was my mother's father .He was native of North Carolina and at the age of about 17, he was married to a beautiful little black-eyed girl whose name was Miss. Bettie Allen and he with the Allen kin emigrated to Jackson County, Tennessee, and from there to Jackson County, Alabama, in an early day. The AlIens and McCrarys were among the first settlers in that country and they had the pick and choice of the best lands all of them have good homes. Nais Allen, my great grandfather was a soldier in the War of the Revolution, but lived to a good old age. Grandfather and grandmother McCrary had 4 sons and 8 daughters, but in 1831, when Aunt Druza was two weeks old, our precious grandmother died, and Elder David Jacks conducted a memorial service in her memory. I knew old Brother Jacks many years. He was one of the most gifted preachers the Old Baptist had in those days. Sometime after the death of grandmother McCrary, Grandfather married Seely Rash. Aunt Myery McCrary had married Larson Rash and Uncle Almon McCrary had married Taley Rash so you see how grandfather was brother-in-law to his son Almon and his daughter Myry.
That reminds me of an other similar case among our Gonce kinfolks. Uncle McKiney's rd wife was a sister to his two sons wives. See the kin could never tell the relationships of the children from for Grandfather McCrary had 5 children and Aunt Myry had 7 sons and 3 daughters. Uncle Amon had 4 children, therefore, the grandchildren called Grandma Seely, Aunt Seely. Grandfather McCrary never was at county site never saw a courthouse, never had a lawsuit, was never a witness in any case nor did he ever spend a night with any of his children. In fact, he could be found at home any night early or late. He had a fine head and face as any man I ever knew. He lived 87 years. Always had plenty, in fact, his crops never failed, his was a splendid farm. He knew his age by the age of his first born in 1806, when he was 18 and he was named Williams. Great grandfather McCrary had his house burned in North Carolina and of course his family record was burned up. Therefore, he knew his own age by the age of his first child. His first children numbered 12 and his last wife's was 5.
George Rogers, my father, married Eliza McCrary, who was of the first family in about 1834 or 1835, and my sister Betty was born in 1836, and I in 1838. So you see I will be 85 my next birthday which is the 14th of next May. Sister Bettie will be 87 her next birthday. My mother's 10 children with 3 exceptions lived to a good old age. Brother Jim, when 18 years old, went to War between the States and lost his dear precious life in the great battle of Chickamauga. Brother Sam was with him in the battle but came through without getting hurt. Brother Sam after a long tedious illness, passed away the last day of July, 2 years ago, nearly 80 years old. My father and Brother Sam joined the first company that went from Stevenson, Alabama, to the War of 1861. I went to war in 1862. Brother Jim went to the war in 1863, at the age of 18. I will never forget the lamentations of my dear mother when she heard of the death of Brother Jim. He was a fine young man. Your Uncle Mike is a good type of your Great Uncle Jim. There are only 5 of mother's children living, 4 sisters and one brother living.
As I did not finish the write up of the Allen kins, I will take up the
family of Uncle Wilson Allen and his brothers and sisters. His brother
Hiram Allen was an Old Baptist. Uncle Wilson and his wife and his son Nais
and wife, who was my father's half-sister , were Free Will Baptists. Uncle
Nais Allen and his brother Dean Allen were in the War between the States
and Uncle Mo's was killed at Franklin, Tennessee, and Dean who married
an other half- sister of my father was killed at Battle of Elkhorn, Arkansas.
Uncle Dean was living in Missouri where the war come up. Those two brothers
were good soldiers and very fine men. I was at Uncle Dean's wedding. He
married in a suit his mother made for him to get married in. The suit was
blue jeans. It was so nice that it was an inspiration to all the people
who were at the wedding-wife's maiden name was Sally Matthews. Uncle Nais
wife's maiden name was Annie Matthews. Those 2 Allen brothers were my mother's
first cousins. My Great Aunt Annie married Amos Grider .She was good Old
Baptist and so was her daughter Sallie Ship.
Now I will write about a number of Old Baptists. Uncle Hiram Allen was a former Old Baptist. He had a deaf mute son, Bob Allen, who joined the church I belong to. I saw him baptized. My Grandmother Matthews joined the same church. Aunt Prudence McCrary was an Old Baptist. My Great Grandmother Gonce and her son, Randolph, and his wife were Old Baptist. My Grandfather William Rogers was an Old Baptist for he live many years before the new Order of Baptist came along. I think Aunt Anna Stubblefield was an Old Baptist. Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Williams were Old Baptist. Grandfather Williams had a brother who was an Old Baptist. Preacher Uncle San and Annie Wilson were Old Baptist.
I will now take up the Matthews family. Jerry Matthews married Jenny and Bill Matthews, his brother married Rachel Williams. Two brothers married sisters, my father lived neighbor to Jerry Mathews one on the Tennessee side of the state side and one on the Alabama side about 1f2 mile apart. Jerry Mathews was my wife's father and his children were born in Tennessee. My father's children were all born in Alabama. My mother said that Jerry Mathews was one of the best neighbors she ever knew. Jerry and Jenny had 3 sons and 4 daughters. Jerry Mathews died of consumption in 1847. He and his wife went to see his sister, Aunt Betty Willis to spend the day and he laid down on the bed and died right away. My wife was 10 years old at the time. The names of their children were Mike, Jasper, Lenta, Clamenza, Lizzie, Sarah and Mary. All died of lung trouble except Mary. She was the mother of Tom Middleton and was the most beautiful one of the kinfolk. Your Uncle Mike and Marian and Uncle Pete Williams, Lark Willis and your Uncle John Thurman went to War with Mexico in 1846. The captain died in Mexico and Uncle Pete Williams was elected Captain. But the war was over when they arrived in Mexico. The kinfolks I have mentioned all returned home safe and sound, all got married pretty soon after they came home. John Thurman married Lizzie Matthews. Lark Willis married Surena Anderson. Mike Matthews married Sallie Thurman. Peter Williams married Lizzie Matthews a beautiful woman. Marion Williams married Dink Thurman. They all had large families except Mike Matthews had 2 girls. Uncle Marion and Aunt Dink had no one. Your Great grandmother Jenny Matthews lived . to a good old age, but her sister Rachel Mathews died middle age with a carbuncle on the back offer neck. Your Uncle Lent Mathews went to the War Between the States and was wounded in the Battle of the Seven Prairies. He was a fine soldier .He commanded his company in the Battle of Chickamauga. Your Great Uncle Jasper Mathews professes religion and joined the Presbyterian Church and prepared for ministry, but when the war was coming, he stumped Jackson County, Alabama, in apposition to secession. But when the State went out of the Union, he made up a company which was called Company J. He was very proud of Company J. He lost his health and died in middle of the War with consumption. He was the favorite brother of my wife. He married Mary Anderson. She died before the war and left 2 boys, Matt and John. Jasper was a good friend of mine. He was a brave soldier .
I will now take up the Williams family, the greatest family in middle Tennessee. Sherod Williams married Mary Looney in the beginning of the last century. They had 17 sons and 4 daughters. I knew 1h, of them. One son died when quite a child and the next one was a boy and Grandma named it Lent for she said the Lord had Lent it to her. So you will understand how the name Lent came in the family. Grandpa Williams was away from home some place in the south and died there in 1835. 5 years after his death, 2 of his sons went and brought his remains home. He was buried in the family graveyard near his home. I was at the tombs of both the old people and read the beautiful inscriptions on tomb of old Grandfather Williams, “I heard a voice from Heaven saying write, blessed are the dead that die in the Lord (from Proverbs) yea saith the Spirit. They rest from their labors and their works do follow them. " He was a great man among the Old Baptist. Grandmother was baptized a while before Uncle Siah Williams was born, by Elder Josiah Con, and after the babe was born was named Josiah after the old preacher. The dear old grandmother lived about 20 years after she was left a widow. Her first born was named Mike who was named after old grandmother's father Mike Looney. So you see how the name Mike in our peoples given names. Mike Looney was a very fine man .Uncle Jim Williams was married to Katie Taley of Alabama, and he owned a fine farm on the Tennessee River. They had a large family of sons and daughters. Their eldest son Jerry Williams went to the War with Mexico with the other kin in 1836. That was the time the war came up. All our soldiers went later. In fact, the war was over when they arrived in Mexico. Uncle Jim's 4 daughters married husbands with the given names Bill. Bill Blake, Bill Genver, Bill Holder, Bill Sells. Uncle Jim said the devil owed him a debt and said paid him off in bad Bills. Your Uncle Jasper died at his Uncle Jim's. He stopped there on his way home from Florida, when he was very weak from his lung trouble. His mother went there when he passed away or rather she was there some time before he died. He was buried in his Uncle Jim's orchard. When his mother was anxious for his body to remain for all time to come, but the Masons went and took up the remains and moved them to where his wife was buried over in Tennessee. Uncle Jim Williams was one of the most prominent men in Jackson County, Alabama.. He represented his county in the Legislature time and again. He was a delegate to the State Convention to reconstruct the state which was held after the close of the war. He was a Methodist, but his eldest son, Jerry, was a Camphelite, also Uncle Bill Williams was a Camphelite. Jerry and his wife Jenny Mathews went to Methodist and all the children were Methodist or Presbyterian. Uncle Mat Williams was quite prominent in his native county of Franklin, Tennessee. He owned a Negro quarter. The broadway from the public highway to his big gate had Negro cabins 3 on each side of the broadway. Inside of the gate, was ample space for all sorts of beautiful plants. But the interesting growth in his yard was the greatest grapevine in all that country. He had it running on a from one most of the yard. He was in the Tennessee Legislature when the war broke out and his vote defeated the Bill to arm the state. You see, he was not for the war .He had lost 2 sons in the war and they were good soldiers. I was at his funeral and for the first time saw the Masons bury their dead comrades. 3 brothers emigrated to Texas before the War Between the States to wit: Uncles Pete, Bill and Mike Williams and settled in Barker County. Big valley 10 miles west of Westford, but after the death of Uncle Pete's wife, he went back to Tennessee and died and was gathered to his fathers in his native state. In conclusion, will say the 4 sisters I knew only 2. Aunt Margaret Copenhaven and her family emigrated to South Texas and settled in South Texas, Calwell County. Soon after the War with Mexico, some of the Copenhavens were still living in Calwell County some years after .Of all that large family of21 children, not one is living. They were a great people. I am proud that my children and grandchildren are related to that family of Williams.
The musical talent of our people came from the Allen's and McCrary's. In a large connection of the Mathews kin, there was only one fiddler .He's name was Hasdaway Mathews. There was no musical talent among the William ancestors or their descendants. So we get our musical talent from my mother's side of the house.
When the War Between the States broke out, my father, George Rogers, and Brother Sam went in the first Company from Stevenson, Jackson County, Alabama, in March 1861. I had married the 26111 of November 1860, to Mrs, Sarah A. Gover of Tennessee, so I did not go to the war till July 1862. I was a lieutenant in father's company. My father, George Rogers, was a brave soldier and was in favor of the war. I was not for the war all was gaining by the rich and the poor fight the battles. Therefore, the old saying is true. It's a rich man's war and a poor man's fight.
I with a family of 6 children, 2 step-sons and an orphan girl, Nance Nicie Mills, and my wife emigrated to Texas, 50 years ago last September. My father, mother, 3 sisters and Brother John, and W. L. Willis (sister Prudie's husband) came to Texas the next year. We all settled in Hood County. But in a few years, all my kinfolk moved to Young County, where Sister Nanie and her husband, George Carton, had settled 2 or 3 years before. Father and mother died many years ago. Sister Nanie Carlton died about 2 years ago. 7 of our father's and mother's children were Old Baptist. I joined the Old Baptist the 1 si Sunday in October 1858, 65 years ago. Brother Sam and 4 sisters joined the Old Baptist in Alabama over 50 years ago. My youngest Sister Margaret Turner joined the Old Baptist in Texas many years ago. I saw my father baptized in the fellowship of the Old Baptist about 40 years ago. So there were 8 of the family Old Baptist. In May 1872, my wife was baptized by Elder Jim Wagner of Tennessee in the full fellowship of the Wagner's Creek Church of Old Baptist. In June 4th, Sunday, 1872, I was ordained to the full work of the ministry by Elder James Wagner, J. W. Holdman, and Elijah Rogers. The following September, we started our long journey to Wood County, Texas. I have had the care of Old Baptist Churches since 1879, 44 years, served as Moderator of Associations for years had great meetings at Acton, Texas, Joshua, Texas, Burn, Texas, Toorlee, Springtown, Hogg Creek, Texas and other meetings besides as societies at Lane Prairie, 5 miles north of Cleburne which was well attended. I suppose I was gifted to feed the sheep and lambs of the flock and met t make them you see Melrose. God makes the sheep and his ministers feed them. My wife died the 17th of August 1892. I am glad that she had no fears of death, but her hope was well ground and it was that sure hope. In 1894, I married Mary S. Crazier Donaldson, who had 2 sons and 5 daughters and I had 7 sons and 2 daughters. Mary Rogers joined the church at Acton, and I baptized her in November 1894. She has been a great nurse as was my first wife in sickness and all manner of troubles. They were great hands to entertain company at big meetings. Your Grandma Rogers had 200 to eat at her table on Sunday of the associations when it was held at Acton, Texas. Your Grandma Mary entertained 150 when we held the association at Blum. Your first Grandma Rogers was such a fine nurse as well as good too. We had to call (next page lost).
..life he was a teacher in the public school area and published a newspaper for 25 years. He was one of our dear kinfolks who it seems died in his prime of life, leaving his dear wife one of the best women among all our dear people.
William Leroy Rogers March 8, 1923
(This letter has been typed and spelling edited only - Karen Hinton-Cook)
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