Transcribed by Pat Stubbs
This Article Appeared In The Times
But Was Not Actually Titled Calís Column
April 14, 1949
AN OLD LETTER
Dixon Springs, Tennessee
June 11, 1925
Mr. J. B. Johnson
514 Urekqa Street
Dear Cousin Jim:
†††† After so long a time, I avail myself of the present opportunity to write you that your two letters, one bearing date of several months ago, and the other of recent date, have been duly received and read over and over with much interest.† I beg† to say that I was somewhat surprised, but pleasantly so, to receive a letter from you, thinking that you had forgotten me.† But, from the tone of your letter, I have decided that I am right in my prediction, but that you do occasionally think of us, as we do of you and yours. I should and would have answered you long before now but have given myself time to try to get up information you desire, and hope I have been able to arrive at and now write you something about the Johnson family that will be of interest and pleasure to you to know.† I write you first about our grandfather, John Johnson, for whom your father was named.† I have not been able to ascertain when he was born or when he died.† It was said he was a man of great ability for accumulating, and at one time owned much and most of the land from where he lived on Dry Fork of Goose Creek on both sides of the creek down to Meadorville.† In grandfather's early days, most of the people in this country lived in round log cabins with floors made of rough split slabs, and just a window hole in the wall with a board shutter; and if a chimney at all, it was a stick and dirt chimney.† But our grandfather built on the East fork of Goose Creek, a house that was talked about for miles away.† The people said old man Johnson built a very large, two story hewed poplar, log house.† They said it had a floor upstairs as well as downstairs.† And they also said: "Don't you think it had glass windows in it, windows made out of glass?"
†††† Grandmother and grandfather lived in the house that† was so much talked about until he burnt brick in the bottom between Hillsdale and the church house and built the old brick house at Hillsdale.† They lived there together until one day he and a negro man were on the Dry Fork working a cherry saw log down a hillside to where it could be loaded on a wagon. The log got away from them and rolled over grandfather and killed him.
†††† Our grandmother's maiden name was Ellis, Grace Ellis; and I have been told by Uncle Carroll Johnson, one of her sons, that she was a great worker; and at times, when she was up with her own work, would go over the neighborhood and as far as Gallatin and gather up knitting to do.†† She did not do this because she had it to do, but because she liked so much to have something to do.† In her latter days, and, I think, after grandfather was killed, she lost her eyesight.† When I was very small boy and before the Baptist church was built at Meadorville, the people of the whole neighborhood built and had meetings in a camp meeting shed.† The shed was on my father's land, 60 X 100 feet in size, I think.† My father and the Johnson families had a camp house, in which they stayed days and nights for meetings.† This was after grandmother lost her eyesight; and she was lying one night on a strawbed asleep when a tallow candle, which had a fork stuck through it into the wall, burned down to the fork and fell down on her strawbed and set it on fire.† The result was that she was so badly burned that she died from it.† Our grandparents were buried in the Taylor graveyard at the mouth of the Taylor Branch.† Our grandfather Johnson had a brother by the name of Steve Johnson.† He was Aunt Katharine Cothron's father, and his wife was Miss Rachel Wilson.† He also had a sister, Uncle Bill Burrow's mother, whose maiden name was Rachel Johnson.† Our grandmother Johnson had one sister and four brothers whose names are as follows: Sarah Ellis was born September 30, 1767; and married a man named Davidson; Willis Ellis who was born March 5, 1770; James Ellis who was born June 6, 1772; Abraham Ellis, born March 29, 1775.† And our grandmother, Grace Ellis, who was born June 25, 1778.† Her youngest brother, Isaac Ellis, was born July 16, 1780.† I failed to find out if any of our grandmother's brothers were married.† But I presume they were. I also failed to find dates of their deaths.† Lethia Stafford, my sister Adeline Wright's daughter, has a set of chairs that belonged to our grandmother, Grace Johnson; and she also has a pair of cotton hose that our grandmother knit.† My mother and my sister, Adeline, were both married with these on and Lethia Stafford aimed to be married with them on, but forgot to do so.† They look now almost as nice as new ones.† I have no recollection of our grandfather, but I do remember our grandmother.† Our uncle, Isaac Johnson, was born December 10, 1810 and died March 14, 1832.† I failed to find any account of his ever being married.† Uncle Jacob S. Johnson, for whom your brother, Jacob, was named, was born February 25, 1812.† He was married to Dr. Sam Bridgewater's father's sister.† They reared three children only, Jim, Richard, and John.† Jim and Richard went into the War Between the States.† Jim was wounded and died from the wounds.† I don't think he was ever married.† Richard made a good doctor as did your brother, Willie.† He, Richard, married a girl by the name of †Bridgewater and reared several children.† John made a good lawyer.† He married a girl by the name of Burnley and had two children, Belle Johnson and Richard.† Uncle Jacob's family are most all dead.† Jacob was killed while hauling hogsheads of tobacco across Mace's Hill.† Uncle John S.† Johnson was born October 19, 1814.† Uncle Thomas D. Johnson was born November 23, 1815(for whom your brother, Thomas was named) and married a girl by the name of Bransford, a sister to Aunt Martha Jane Fagg's first husband, Will Bransford.† They had three children, Doss, Tina, and Clay.† Doss married a man by the name of Jim Donoho; Lenora, Willis, and Agnes Donoho's father; Tina was never married and Clay was never married.† He was a fine schoolteacher.† Aunt Mary Johnson was born December 30, 1817.† I have not found any account of her ever being married or the date of her death.† Uncle Andrew J. Johnson and William C. Johnson were twins, born December 23, 1819.† Uncle Andrew died August 17, 1872.† Uncle Carroll lived to be several years older than Uncle Jackson.† Uncle Willis Preswill Johnson was born May 27, 1821, but I have failed to find any record of his death.† We have an Aunt named Polly Johnson who married a man named Coker.† I do not know if they had any children and have no record of their births or deaths.† You probably know all about Uncle Carroll's and Uncle Jackson's family yourself.
†††† My father, Wilson Turnar Meador, was born June 20, 1803, died January 16, 1863.† My mother was not quite fifteen when she and my father were married.† I will give you the name of their children:† Sarah J. Meador was born March 18, 1829 and died December 11, 1837.† Grace E. Meador was born May 16, 1830 and died April 6, 1836.† Mary S. Meador born January 28, 1832 and died Dec. 17, 1837.† John W. B. Meador was born Jan. 4, 1834 and died April 3, 1836; Newton J. Meador was born Sept. 24, 1835 and died Apri. 24, 1836.† Adeline D. Meador born Mar. 29, 1837, Martha S. Meador born December 15, 1838, died Oct. 28, 1840.† J. W. Meador born March 22, 1841.† Thomas J. Meador born January 29, 1843, died May 14, 1845.† Ira D. Meador born November 27, 1845.† Meredith J. Meador born December 5, 1847, died September 20, 1848.† Henry T. Meador born Nov. 12, 1849.† Andrew C. Meador born Oct. 27, 1853.
†††† My father bought negro Lize from a trader who bought up negroes and shipped them South to work in cotton and sugar and I think at a cost of $1,250.00.† She had killed several person before my father bought her, but he had not heard of her being quilty of murder.† She had a time set to kill my mother in the smoke-house with a butcher knive; but decided as my mother was a large woman, she would not be able to hide her away, so gave it up.† One night, while my mother and father were sleeping, she took brother Jim,. just a child, off the bed from between them and put a handkerchief under his throat and carried it back of his neck, tied it sufficiently tight, as she thought to choke him to death and laid him on the door step, but my father and mother were awakened in time to save his life.† She said that a negro man, named Jack, whom my father owned, was the guilty one.† Soon after whe was found guilty of the above crime she carried my little brother, Thomas, who was about two and one half years old, to the milking place and beat him to death with the calf stick which she used to tap the calf from the cow.† My father would have shot her to death with his rifle but was caught and kept from doing it.† She was arrested, tried and found guilty of the crime and hanged.† I think she was the only person ever hanged in Macon County.† Just before she was hanged† she sold her head to Dr. Flippin, living in Lafayette at the time, for all the ginger cakes and cider she could "chamber."† She was then hung until dead.† When she was pronounced dead and let down, Dr. Flippin cut her head off and tied it up in a handkerchief, carrying it in his hand over town and kept it as long as he lived.† At his death, it was turned over to his son in law, Dr. Bratton; and I think his son, young Dr. R. E. Bratton now has it.† In time of the Civil War, a regiment of Yankee soldiers camped at Meadorville and the officers stayed at our house.† They had small-pox and gave it to my father's whole family, except Jim, who was in the war.† It killed both my parents, everybody being so afraid of the disease we had to bury our own parents.
†††† We are well and hope this will reach you and fine you and family in splendid health.† We would be very glad to hear from you all at any time it is convenient.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I am, your old cousin,
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Signed†††††††††††††† †H. T. Meador††††††††††††††††††††††††