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Memories and Stories of Life in Marion County

From Linda Hollingsworth :

I know that my mother had a sister born February 3, 1920, but there was also another child Osborne that died before Aunt Evelyn was born. So the picture would have been sometime between 1917-1920. Nancy Walden was Grandpa's first wife but when she and the four children died he married my Grandmother and they had ten children together. The child from Nancy that survived was May Murphy. I will have to get back with you on who May married.

I do remember my Grandmother very well. She past away in 1989.
She was born Pelham in Grundy County but Grandpa Peter Murphy was from Victoria the best that my family understands. They moved to Whitwell and Grandpa worked his entire life in the Whitwell Coal mine there. Grandpa died in 1963 when I was only two so I do not remember him. My mothers family still lives in Marion County. There was 39 of us Grandchildren so you can imagine how big our family is now!

My Grandmother was very much loved in Whitwell. She loved Jesus and loved her family. There was never a time that she had someone walk in her door that she did not feed. I have been researching more information on the Murphy family and onto a good lead but nothing to say is concrete yet.

I am also a Hamilton descendent on my Dad's side. My Hollingsworth ancestors where also in Marion County in the early 1830s.


From Cheryl Cook Singleton

My g-grandfather was quite active in the Whitwell Lodge No. 563 from 1899 until he withdrew in March 21, 1914 -- he and his family went over to Mulga, Jefferson Co., Ala to work the mines there, and 7 months later was killed in an explosion.

It was quoted in the Birmingham, Alabama newspaper as follows:

In the Oct. 8, 1914 Birmingham Alabama paper:
"Sixteen Dead in Mine Explosion"
"Ed King, of Whitwell, Victim of Explosion at Mulga, Ala. Monday"
"Birmingham, Ala. October 5, 1914--
"Sixteen men are known to be dead and twelve injured as the result of a pocket gas explosion at the Mulga mines of the Woodward Iron company, near Ensley, this morning.  Removal of the bodies is proceeding tonight, only nine of the sixteen dead having been brought out up to eight o'clock.
"Mine officials state the explosion as purely local and was caused by striking a pocket of gas.  What ignited the gas has not been determined.  The mine itself was not seriously damaged.  Mulga mines had a previous explosion April 20, 1910, when thirty-five were killed.
"Three of the dead have been identified:  Ike Calsoki, Ed King and Charles Campbell, white miners.
"Mr. King was formerly of Whitwell."

My g-grandparents had 3 sons -- one of whom was ERNEST EDWARD KING, born in Petros, Morgan Co., TN -- my grandfather--who married my grandmother, SARA MARIE THOMAS in 1926.


Memories  of  Bill McConnell:

Just Call Me Billy Bob

My father grew up beside what was US Hwy 41 and is now state route #2 since it was dissected by the interstate. In the 1920-1930's, his older brother built a gas station on the road which was mostly gravel and dirt at the time but it did run from Chicago to Miami. My father and uncles were all good carpenter's and mechanics. You had to be a good mechanic in those days if you owned any machinery. They had access to a lot of cars, trucks and motorcycles.

Bascially how this happened was that often times vehicles would break down near their station and would be so worn out that the owner's would abandon them or trade them for something to eat and a place to sleep until they could catch a ride to their destination.

My father told of the many strange folk who made their way up and down that road. Mobsters going from Chicago to Miami were not an uncommon sight but they were as polite as any who passed. Some rich people passed by on their way to their summer home at the Assembly Grounds on Monteagle.

Later my uncle sold the gas station to George Kelly who operated it until the 1960's or 70's. It had a fitting name -George Kelly's Store. I can remember drinking a lot of Double Cola's, RC Cola's and Nehi's at that store to wash down a moon pie.

About three miles south of my uncle's gas station is an area called Smith town. It is at the intersection of what was US #41 and Fishtrap road. The "highway" (dirt and gravel) passed through a low spot in that area. There was an old man (I do not remember the name) who owned a team of mules and made a good living most of the year pulling model T Fords and the like through the mud so that they could be on their way.

My father said that business got slow for the old man in the heat of the summer when the mudhole dried up. So he hit upon an idea. He and his sons began hauling water from the creek and filling up that old mudhole to put it back in the condition God intended it to be in. From then on until they paved US #41, the old man had a year round income.


Memories of John Simpson MD retired

When I was very young we had a first cousin, Hayden Simpson, and a second cousin, Reno Pryor, who were automobile nuts. Time frame 1910-15.

Our best roads were macadam---no modern pavement.
Hayden lived a short 2 blocks south of the main square and Reno lived 1 mile north on the road to Sequatchee. One day Hayden invited me on a ride in a Stanley Steamer. It had seats for 4 people. For those too young to know, Stanley Steamers ran on steam generated by a kerosine boiler in the back end.

Well, we headed toward South Pittsburg on the macadam highway. We had gone about 3/4 of a mile when the backend caught fire. We were near Town Creek bridge. In those days every bridge, where possible, had a road< through the creek for horse drawn vehicles to water the horses. We took the horses way and the water put out the fire! My first and last ride on a Stanley Steamer.

I had several uneventful rides with Reno in a gasoline powered roadster.
By the way, Reno was very proud when he finally made the mile from home to Jasper in one minute.

I was 6 or 7 years old.

More memories  from Dr. John


I was born in Jasper, why I am an M.D.----It sorta runs in the family. Grandpa John William Simpson was an M.D., attended U of PA med sch. 1839-40 from Loudon Co. VA and migrated to Dunlap in 1848 and later to Jasper.

My sisters were teachers, my brother, R. Turner S. was prominent dentist in Atlanta, my daughters---One a leading master social worker here and the other master in Psychology in schools at Llano, TX. Grandpa, Washington Turner, first married Mary Haley. Their third and last child was Melville Turner, a fine doctor for those days, and our family doctor. He delivered me.

Grandpa's second wife was Mary Horne, from Perry Co. AL. and her first child was South Carolina Turner. Her name was changed to Mary Callie Catherine.

Yankees controlled Sequatchie Valley then and made Mary Horne Turner wade a creek with one day old Mommy and destroyed their home, and killed the livestock and stole the horses.

Callie Turner Simpson, Mommy, died when I was 9 months old. I was raised by 3 wonderful sisters.
Daddy, Richard T. Simpson, died before I was 6. He was one of the "Six Simpson Boys" who had "dry goods stores" from Whitwell to Stevenson AL. I was last of 7 children. One sister died before I was born. I meant to say Mommy died of "cholera morbus", now known as appendicitis.

We lived in the "Dick Simpson House" and the R. R., by eminent domain, cut ran close having split our home place. The Yankees were not aware of the coal.
Our valley was a strategic point between Nashville and Chattanooga---not important otherwise. Grandpa Washington Turner was a rabid Rebel imprisoned in Nashville. Escaped and took family to Florida 'til war ended.

Betty's  foot note here------John told me he was born in Jasper, May 14, 1906.
Mother---Mary Catherine Turner S.
Father---Richard Turner (Dick) S.
The last of seven children. Mommy died March 1907. Daddy died March 1913.


Christmas Memories  of  Bill McConnell:

We would make one trip to Chattanooga before Christmas and the highlight of the trip was the animated Christmas scenes in the department store windows. South Pittsburg hung strings of colored light bulbs across the main street. But that was about it for outdoor decoration as I remember. Very few, if any, folks had lighted decorations outdoors. It was kind of a novelty.
We always had a cedar Christmas tree because they grew like weeds on our farm and were free. My wife won't have one now. Looks like a poor folks tree (which we are), bothers her allergies, sheds too much, smells too much and on and on.

But the Christmas's I remember most were the ones when I had to put together my kids toys while they were asleep and not make any noise. I remember once putting together a kitchen set make of thin sheet metal. All you had to do was look at it cross-eyed and it would pop.


Memories of her grandfather Wiley L. Ross, Sr. by Sandra Ross Shelton

A Strange Experience: "Tell me a story about when you where young Pa-pa." It wasn't often that I was able to spend time alone with my grandpa. He was a busy man and had a large farm to run, but every time I was given the chance I wanted to hear stories about his life and experiences. It wasn't hard to tell if pa-pa was in the mood for story telling, he'd flash a sly little grin and his blue-gray eyes would twinkle. The first time he told me this story we where in the barn surrounded by hay and dry corn that had been put away for winter storage. Without ever breaking his pace he continued to shell corn and began his story. "Well when your granny and me first got married we lived in a three-room house at the foot of the mountain near the old coke ovens. One night during the summer we heard a noise that started out low, it sounded like a cow bellowing in the distance. Gradually the noise got louder and louder, like someone moaning in pain. I decided to see if I could see anybody out side. I went and opened up the door, and the minute I got it cracked my old blue tick hounds, Jake and Blue, came running in the house and ran straight under the bed. I tried my best to get them dogs to come out from under the bed, but they were cowered in the corner under there and had no intentions of going anywhere else. We used coal oil lanterns in those days, because we didn't have electricity yet. I told your granny to stick one of the lanterns out the window on one end of the house and I'd stick one out the other end to see if any thing was out there. Well, your granny wasn't to fond of that idea and let me know what I could do with my lantern. Fine, I just go out and look around the house. This ideal wouldn't work either, your granny was't about to let me go out side and leave her by herself, and she wasn't going to go out with me. So that night we sat up and fell asleep in our chairs. The next morning old Jake woke me up by licking my hand. I nearly jumped out of my skin because I still had the previous night on my mind. The sun was coming up and the moaning had stopped so I decided to check on the live stock. After checking on the animals I spotted my neighbor coming down the road and flagged him down to ask him if he had heard the noise. Sure did, he said, a few years back there was a fellow working late by himself crushing coke and somehow fell into the crusher and was ground to death. No body found him until the next morning, so now every year about this time you can hear a moaning sound coming from the place where the grinding wheels used to be. They were only a few hundred yards from here." Pa-pa told me after he finished his story that he and my granny started looking for a new place to live the next day. I never took pa-pa's stories as anything more than just stories made up to pacify a young girls fancy. Then this past year I was researching some local history and there in a local paper dated 1929 the headline read " Victoria Haunt Strikes Again." I could feel the hair on my head standing on edge and goose bumps covered my arms. After over coming my initial shock I decided to further investigate the article and found two more articles concerning the haunt of Victoria. In one of the articles the haunt was supposedly exorcised and banished forever, maybe the exorcism worked. I only live about a mile from pa-pa first house and I have yet to hear the moaning or anyone speak of it. I wish I could talk to pa-pa about his story more after finding the newspaper articles, but he is gone now. I'm doing all I can to preserve the stories he told to me as a wide-eyed young girl. I tell pa-pa's stories to my daughter now and hopefully when she is a mother with children of her own she will tell them to her own children. In this way pa-pa and his wonderful stories can live on forever.

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May 19, 2003