Archive for the ‘The fam’ Category

Uncle Pete and Aunt Nancy

March 24, 2019

Back to the newspapers…

Uncle Pete was my mother’s brother. He and his family lived far away in Florida, and we saw them once a year when they visited Grandma, who was Pete’s mother.

Pete and his older brother Jim were college-educated, unlike the two girls in the family. He spoke over our heads. Perhaps it was on purpose.

These images are from GenealogyBank.

The engagement was announced in the Knoxville News-Sentinel on February 1, 1953.


MR. and MRS. JAMES A. FRANKLIN of Fort Myers, Fla., announce the engagement of their daughter, Nancy Jean, to Cecil P. Packett, son of Mrs. James A. Packett of Lenoir City.

The bride-to-be was graduated in December from U-T, where she was a member of Kappa Delta sorority.

Mr. Packett served three years with the Navy and will receive his degree in journalism from U-T in March. He is a staff member of the Orange and White, student newspaper, and a member of the Publications Council, All Students Council and Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.

The wedding will take place at 7 p.m. March 27, at First Baptist Church of Fort Myers.

Leslie pointed out that Uncle Pete was in the Navy and probably went to college on the GI Bill. Interesting to think that he earned the right to go to college, and the girls could not.

They were married on March 27, 1953. They honeymooned in Havana, Cuba, back when Americans could go to Cuba.

‘OLD GRADS’ GET TOGETHER — Mr. an Mrs. Cecil Paul Packett, who were married March 27 at Fort Myers, Fla., are pictured at Hotel Nacional, Havana, Cuba, where they are spending their honeymoon. The bride was Miss Nancy Franklin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James A. Franklin of Fort Myers. She and Mr. Packett met during student days at U-T, where both were graduated. Mr. Packett, son of Mrs. James A. Packett of Lenoir City, will take his bride to Paris, Tenn., to live. He is with The Paris Post-Intelligence.


I lost track of Uncle Pete and Aunt Nancy after Grandma died. I saw them one more time at Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary in 1992. They have both since passed away.

Good night, friends. We are thinking of you.

The Polaroid Land Color Picture

March 23, 2018

Here’s a photo of my mother with her friend Irma Young Jaques. Irma also happened to be my godmother.

Mom wrote on the front:

“Evelyn Ruth Packett Rawls (left)

Irma Jean Jacques dear friend from


but that is not actually how Irma spelled her last name. It is “Jaques”. JAY-kwiss.

Mom & Irma0001

It appears that these ladies were out and about in Knoxville, and stopped to have their photo made with this new-fangled system called Polaroid.

The photo came with its own little frame made out of cardstock. If you opened up the card, you found this…

Mom & Irma0002


Now, here’s where things get fun. Mom and Irma wrote on the back side as to where they were and when the photo was made.

Mom & Irma0003

THIS POLAROID LAND COLOR PICTURE was developed in a minute. All the photographer had to do was snap the picture and pull the tab. The full-color image developed automatically, accomplishing in one step and a minute what takes many steps and many minutes in any elaborately equipped darkroom for conventional color prints.

POLACOLOR PICTURES can be made in nearly all existing Polaroid Land cameras All models made before August 1963 use the roll film format. The new Polaroid Color Pack Camera, introduced on that date, uses pack film. Both kinds of cameras produce color pictures in a minute, black and white pictures in 10 seconds.

COLOR COPIES AND ENLARGEMENTS of this picture are available from Polaroid Copy Service. Just use the order form enclosed in any box of Polacolor film. Send the picture and order to Polaroid Copy Service, Box 150, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139.

Across the top, in Irma’s handwriting:

June 30


Millers on Henley

Across the bottom, in Mom’s handwriting:

Evelyn Ruth Packett Rawls age 47

Mom and Dad’s anniversary was on June 30. So this means on this Wednesday, June 30, 1965, she and Irma went to Millers Department Store in Knoxville. I don’t have any memory of this, and I suppose that LilSis and I were at Mom’s mother’s house for the day. Mom rarely did anything special for herself, and I suspect that Irma wanted to do something special for Mom, knowing that Dad wouldn’t have planned anything. Remember, they don’t buy the Ford tractor for 2 more years…

The Bank of Lenoir City

March 22, 2018

Y’all know that I have a subscription to GenealogyBank. I’ve been off on a tangent looking for information about Joe Webb while he was living in Lenoir City with my grandparents.

While I didn’t find anything relevant to that, I found a mother lode of information about the early beginnings of Lenoir City. You have been warned.

From the Daily Journal and Journal and Tribune, 7/10/1891, Knoxville, Tennessee, Volume: VII, Issue: 135, Page: 2



Corner Stone of the New Bank Building Laid Yesterday.

Lenoir City, Tenn., July 9. –Mr. J. S. Snyder, of Springfield, Ohio, is in our city. He has been all over Tennessee, admiring the beauties and advantages found here. He is one of Springfield’s influential business men. He is well posted on all business topics and as fine conversationalist as one will meet in a years travel. Lenoir’s environs have captivated him, especially Chestnut Hill, where he had the pleasure of eating his fourth of July dinner.

Appropriate ceremonies were observed here to-day in honor of the laying of the corner stone of the Lenoir City bank building. The bank has been organized one year, and withal the financial crises of the past eight months, they have always been able to accommodate their customers with money and also to declare a nice dividend to its stockholders. Within the brass lined receptical in the center of the corner stone were placed a $5. gold piece bearing the date that the bank was organized, a neatly written history of Lenoir City, a list of the officers and the names of the contractors, Thompson Brothers.

Steps are being taken to have a brass band organized here. We have plenty of talent in that line and there is no reason why Lenoir City should not have a band that she should be proud of.

Contractor Abrams of Knoxville has just completed four houses here and has five more under good headway. He is what the boys call a hustler.

Mrs. W. Caswell and daughter Miss Helen Page, have gone to Tate Springs to spend two or three weeks.

Mrs. C. H. Stanton, visited two days of this week in Knoxville, the guest of Mrs. Will and Sam Cooper, in North Knoxville.


In my mother’s papers, I found some paperwork from the Bank of Lenoir City.


Postmarked April 7, 1969.

BankOfLenoirCity LoanAgreement0003


Roy C. Rawls, Route 1, Lenoir City, Loudon, Tennessee (hereinafter called “Debtor’s”) an individual, said address being Debtor’s Residence and the location of the property covered hereby, hereby grants to BANK OF LENOIR CITY, Lenoir City, Tennessee (hereinafter called “Bank”)

Ford Tractor, Year 1957, Motor No. 850, Serial No. 101777, used.

(Blah, blah, blah…)

In Witness Whereof, Debtor and Bank have caused this agreement to be executed this 10th day of October, 1967.

Roy C. Rawls

Mrs. Roy C. Rawls

BankOfLenoirCity LoanAgreement0004BankOfLenoirCity LoanAgreement0002BankOfLenoirCity LoanAgreement0001

They paid that loan off in 18 months, just like they said they would, and the bank marked it paid on April 7, 1969, and mailed the “Paid in Full” receipt on the same day.

Now, if I can find a photo of that tractor…

Meet Joe Webb

March 20, 2018

I met Joe Webb when I was a little girl. I have a few vague, shadowy recollections of him. He was my grandmother’s brother.

Grandma had another brother named Tom, and a brother named Charlie that I never met. Charlie died about 1936, and my aunt had told me once that Charlie had gotten ill with what they called “Brain Fever” when he was a child. He stayed childlike, even as an adult, and always lived with his mother Henrietta.

Joe and Tom lived out of state. I suppose that they came to visit my grandmother when the weather was nice in the summer. I remember when we went to her house to see them that we sat out under the maples in her yard.

My shadowy memory of Joe is that he had wavy, light-colored hair and faded tattoos on his forearms. Did his wife come with him? I’m not sure. Did he drink? It seems like he might have.

Grandma rarely talked about her family. I have found out some things that made me wonder if that was the reason. I know that she seemed fond of her parents, and I got the idea that they were good people.


A few weeks ago I got a new cousin match on ancestry. A second cousin! I sent her a message, and she answered. It seemed that my grandmother Ruth and her grandfather Joe were siblings. She didn’t know anything about Joe. He had divorced her grandmother a few years after their daughter was born. Joe saw the daughter maybe once after that, and called her perhaps a half-dozen times. She grew up and raised 6 children who never met their grandfather Joe.

This makes me very sad. What went wrong? I poked around a little.

I asked one of my older cousins if she remembered Joe. She did have a few vague memories; he was married to Ethel who was the boss and got him to stop drinking. She didn’t know about the first family.

And the first family didn’t know about the second marriage. They thought Joe never remarried.


I found a photo of Joe in my mother’s things.

I would guess that this was most probably made in Tucker, Georgia.

On the back of the photo…

Your brother

Joe Webb


Joe died in 1985.

He married Gladys Nelle McNew in 1924, and they lived in Knoxville. The Knoxville City Directory shows that he was a meat cutter.

In 1930, he was living with his brother Tom, still in Knoxville at 104 Hickey Place. It is my best guess that the information for the 1930 Directory was gathered in 1929 to be published and distributed in 1930. So I’m guessing by 1929, Joe had left his wife and daughter.

Tom is listed at Kenneth T. Webb. There is also a wife Mildred listed for Tom. I didn’t know that Tom had been married, but he also had a drinking problem, and things like divorce and alcoholism just weren’t discussed.

In the 1930 census Joe was listed as living with his mother Henrietta, so perhaps he stayed with different family members while looking for a safe place to land.


My new cousin wondered if I could offer an opinion about what kind of man her grandfather was. I offered that he might have had some personal issues that kept him away from his wife and children, but that I really didn’t know him. We discussed that he might have been a drinker. She had a photo of her grandfather when he was a young man. She thought that he gave the impression of someone who might drink.

I think the vintage of the photo is Roaring Twenties, before everything crashed in the Depression.

He looks so much like my grandmother.

His wife Nell McNew Webb had to get a job. She worked as a clerk in a dry cleaners, and then married Thomas Buckley about 1930.


I poked around a little more on ancestry and made a discovery.

In 1940 on the federal census, my grandparents and all four of their children, along with Joe Webb and Vivian O’Dell (Grandma’s niece whose parents had died young), were living at 306 Kingston Street in Lenoir City, Tennessee. Y’all, I grew up in this town. It is my hometown, and Kingston Street was a main street. I had never known this. And everyone had lived in the same house in 1935. So when my mother was in high school, she lived in this house. We drove by this house hundreds of times, and that never prompted her to say, “Oh, I used to live there. For YEARS.”

I cropped the image to show their names.

Now if I only had a photo of the house, which Zillow says was built in 1920.

I remember that I have a boots-on-the-ground researcher in place.

BigBroSteve delivers a photo.

Right now I am so nostalgic for a home I’ve never seen that I could cry a little.

All because of Joe Webb.

Weakley County, Tennessee County Court Minutes: Luellin Wilkins, 1829

March 14, 2018

Wilkins 1829 Court records0001

Here’s a copy that I have had for almost 20 years of the the Weakley County, Tennessee, County Court Minutes regarding Llewellyn Wilkins. I have straightened the page and outlined the pertinent parts for “Luellin”.

Wilkins 1829 Court records0001

Page 80

William Fitzgerald)     Debt


John D. Calvert)

This Day came the parties by their attornies and thereupon came a jury of good and lawful men to wit, Benj. Bondurant, Jessie Edmison, Edward Busey, Saml. Morgan, John A.C. Rhoads, John Terrell, William Porch, William Ridgeway, Elijah Stanley, William Willingham, Amasa Parham, & Luellin Wilkins who being duly elected, tried and sworn to the truth to speak, upon the Issue joined, upon their oaths do say that the Defendant is justly indebted to the plaintiff the sum of one hundred and thirty nine Dollars and fifty cents, debt and they do assess his damages to three dollars and ten cents by reason of the detention thereof. It is therefore considered by the court that the Plaintiff recover of the defendant, the aforesaid sum of one hundred and thirty nine Dollars and fifty cents debt, together with the further sum of three dollars and ten cents damages by the jury aforesaid in manner aforesaid, assessed as also his costs, about his suit in this behalf expended &c and that he have execution for the same.



Wilkins 1829 Court records0002

Wilkins 1829 Court records0002

Pages 80 and 81

Martin Clayton)     Debt


Saml. Morgan)

This day came the parties by their attornies and thereupon came a jury of good and lawful men, to wit, Benjamin Bondurant, Jessie Edmison, Edward Busey, John A.C. Rhoads, John Terrell, William Porch, William Ridgeway, Elijah Stanley, William Willingham, Amasa Parham, Luellin Wilkins and John T. Damron who being duly elected, tried and sworn the truth to speak upon the issue joined, upon their oaths, do say that the defendant is justly indebted to the plaintiff the sum of two hundred dollars debt and that they do assess his damages to six Dollars and 45 cents by reason of the detention off sold debt.

It is therefore considered by the court that the plaintiff recover of the Defendant the aforesaid sum of two hundred Dollars debt together with the further sum of six dollars and 45 cents damages by the jury aforesaid in manner aforesaid assessed as also his costs about his suit in this behalf expended and that he have execution for the same &c.

You might have noticed that one of the jurors in the first case becomes the Defendant in the second case. I suspect that this small county was early in its formation, and there were a minimum of “good and lawful men”.

You might wonder why I added both my original copy and my edited copy. You just never know when someone might need an original for their own documentation.

Wilkins from Wake

March 2, 2018

I found this 40-page document that I’ve had for almost 20 years. Doug Marion sent this to me so long ago that I had lost his address. Using the magic of the internet, I found him. He has since emailed me quite a few Wilkins photos that he got from the grandson of a Wilkins. And because I have connected with 2 DNA Wilkins matches, we have shared the photos.

Which leads me to the Wilkins From Wake County. This document was written by Barbara Elaine Clark. It is an unpublished manuscript, and is not to be reproduced without permission. So how am I going to find this unknown person? Yup, the internet. I contacted a 1st cousin that I haven’t seen in 40ish years who lives in the same town as Ms. Clark. Said cousin asked around and came up with a contact person, a name, and a phone number. Ms. Clark is still living and says that I can share. I suppose she might be surprised that someone is interested in a paper she wrote in 1986.

If you are a Wilkins researcher, here are some clues. Read and share!


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The Minor Children of Deaderick Collins 

October 31, 2017

I’ve been reading old newspapers online:, Chronicling America at the Library of Congress website, and most recently GenealogyBank.

Of course, there are still lots of newspapers that aren’t available online, and you have to go Old School with reels of microfilm and a microfilm reader.

This latest obsession started when my new DNA cousin Nick found that my 2x great-grandfather Deaderick Collins was killed when the train, on which he was a fireman, derailed. I found a newspaper account on microfilm.

Then I found online several more accounts of the same event, and then I found other accounts where 2 of Deaderick’s brothers, Hiram and Landon, were also killed in train accidents, and his cousin Richard, who was an engineer, was killed when the train’s boiler exploded. The more sensational the story, the more likely to be published. I had only heard of Deaderick and Landon Collins before I learned about the others by reading the newspapers.

It has been quite amazing to find these forgotten people.


There’s a good bit of unexplainable detail surrounding Deaderick’s wife, the former Ruth Gamble. I can’t explain why she had 4 children after Deaderick died in 1871, for a total of 7 children: Henrietta, Maude, Charles, William, Birdie, Ivy, and Joe. She sued the railroad and had been awarded $6000 in a court case that went all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court. A little bit of money can certainly make one more attractive.

Just how attractive? I asked the Internet to convert $6000 in 1874 to modern dollars. Here’s a screenshot.

That’s pretty darn attractive.

I wondered, though, what was Ruth’s mental state after her husband was crushed to death by a train car? She had 3 little children, the youngest under a year. How was she supposed to support a family? I would be numb. I was numb when my then-husband left in 2002. There was a new house payment, a car payment, a child in private college, and a child in high school. And attorney’s fees. I remember thinking, “What will become of us?” And I thought if he hadn’t left, if he had died, at least I could hide the truth of what a scoundrel he was.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the facts of the two cases are the same, but the despair had to be similar.

Ruth was ill in 1913. I knew this from some old letters. I asked Chronicling America who supported this family story.

She died not long after the last newspaper account, but I can’t find an obituary.


I suddenly realized that I hadn’t checked GenealogyBank for news about Ruth and Deaderick. I had been using the free 7 day trial subscription for about 24 hours when this revelation hit me. Surely there would be confirmation of the train wreck or Ruth’s death.
There was nothing on Ruth, but Deaderick?

From the Knoxville Press and Messenger, February 3, 1875:


Qurum Court proceedings — Justice Jno. L Moses in the Chair:

M. D. Swan was appointed guardian of Henrietta, Isabella, Maud, Mag and Charles Deaderick Collins, minor children of Deaderick A. Collins. 

Y’all? Who are Isabella and Mag?

The Curious Court Case of Ruth A. Collins vs. East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad Company: The Death of Deaderick Collins

September 16, 2017

I first learned about Ruth Collins in 1999. I had decided to learn more about my genealogy, but all I knew on my maternal side was that my great-grandmother was named Henrietta Collins Webb. I found her as a child on the 1880 Blount County, Tennessee, census. Her mother was Ruth Collins. I was sure I had the right family when I saw that the mother’s name was Ruth. You might think the same if you were named for your grandmother, and she was perhaps named for HER grandmother, so it stood to reason that this must be my family.

Ruth Collins was listed as a widow. My BigBroBob was also researching this family, and he had seen a message on the ancestry message boards from a man named Harry who was searching for his grandmother Ivy’s father Deaderick Collins. But Ivy was born in 1881, so this didn’t seem like the same family even though Ivy’s mother was named Ruth. I suppose that we could have stretched the imagination by reasoning that Ivy was born in early 1881, and that Deaderick had died right before the census was taken. That seemed possible, except that Ivy had a younger brother Joseph born about 1883. Surely this was not the same family.

There’s also an 1870 census for Knoxville Tennessee which showed Henrietta and her little sister Maude living with their parents Ruth and D. A. Collins, and D. A. is a railroad hand. So let’s guess that the 1870 family is definitely mine.

That was it. I never found anything more that D. A. was Deaderick.


Fast forward 18 years, and I’ve taken a DNA test. In April 2017 I matched a man named Nick. He was descended through my Henrietta’s sister Maude, but didn’t have any info on Ruth or Deaderick or their life together.


About 2 weeks ago, I received a message from Nick with a link to a google book search. It was about a case that was reported in a book “Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Tennessee, Volume 56”.  Nick used the search term “Deaderick A. Collins”.

The name of the case was Ruth A. Collins v. East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad Co.

Here’s a screenshot:

And then the suit names Deaderick AND WHERE AND HOW HE DIED.


The defendant appeals in error from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Knox county, upon a verdict of six thousand dollars ($6,000) damages assessed by the jury for killing Deaderick Collins, the husband of the plaintiff. The accident which occasioned the death of said Deaderick Collins, occurred on the 2nd of October, 1871. He was a fireman on the defendant’s train, which, on that day, ran over some cattle, whereby the engine and tender were thrown from the track, and the tender upsetting fell upon said Collins killing him instantly.

The action is brought by the widow, under the Act of 1871, ch. 78, which is in the words following: “Be it enacted, &c., that Section 2291 of the Code of Tennessee, be so amended as to provide that the right of action, which a person, who died from injuries received from another, or whose death is caused b the wrongful act, omission, or killing by another, would have had against the wrongdoer in case death had no ensued, shall not abate or be extinguished by the death; but shall pass to his widow; and, in case there is no widow, to his children or to his personal representative, for the benefit of his widow or next of kin, free from the claims of his creditors.”

This Act took effect and was approved by the Governor on the 14th of December, 1871, two months and twelve days after the death of the said Deaderick Collins.

Sugar weighed in on this topic. Wouldn’t there be, he reasoned, a family story of a train accident in which your ancestor DIED? Wouldn’t there be an oral tradition that there were some children whose father was reported to be Deaderick, but clearly couldn’t be since he was DECEASED? I vote no because I have met my family, and I know how we roll.

It just so happens that I was already planning a trip to East Tennessee to attend the 150th anniversary of the church that I grew up in. I had already requested time off, enough time off that I could view the Lawton collection in Columbia, SC, plus spend the night with a Collins cousin, attend the reunion, visit Mom and Dad at the cemtery, go to the Knox County Archives, and visit with friends. This was a golden opportunity.

Then a hurricane appeared. I was planning on the trip anyway, but the trip might be dicey with a possible evacuation. The hurricane cooperated by moving westward.

At the Knox County Archives, it just so happened that the court case was on microfilm. These are iPhone photos of the microfilm.


Ruth A Collins vs The ET Va & Ga RR Co

No 8929 February 14, 1874

Came the parties by their attornies and came also a Jury to wit, JH Mynatt, JA Ogg, Jefferson Jett, Wash Morrow, HC Ogg, JC Chiles, JC Johnson, JR Johnson, JP Ford, John Sayne, WL Kennedy and JW Ventis all good and lawful men citizens of Knox County, who having been tried elected and sworn well and truly to try the issues joined between the parties having heard all the testimony in the cause and a portion of the arguments of counsel from rendering a Verdict are respited until the meeting of court Monday morning next.


No 8929 February 16, 1874

Came the parties by their attornies and came also the jury heretofore Sworn in this cause to wit JH Mynatt, JA Ogg, Jefferson Jett, Wash Morrow, HC Ogg, JC Chiles, JC Johnson, JR Johnson, John Sayne, WL Kennedy, and JW Ventis, who having heard the remainder of the arguments of counsel, from rendering a verdict are again further respited until the meeting of court tomorrow morning.


No 8929 February 17, 1874

Came the parties by the attornies and came also the Jury heretofore sworn in this cause to wit JH Mynatt, JA Ogg, Jefferson Jett, Wash Morrow, HC Ogg, JC Chiles, JC Johnson, JR Johnson,  JA Finch, John Sayne, WL Kennedy, and JW Ventes who upon their oaths do say that they find the matter in favor of the plaintiff and assess the Plaintiff damages by reason of the premises in the Declaration mentioned at the Sum of Six thousand dollars. It is therefore considered by the court that the Plaintiff have and recover of the defendant the Said Sum of Six thousand dollars the damages assessed by the jury together with all the costs of this cause for which execution may issue.



No 8929 February 19, 1874

Came the defendant by attorney and entered a Motion for a new trial of this cause.


February 21, 1874

Came the parties by their attornies and came on for hearing the defendants motion for a new trial of this cause which motion having been argued by counsel and considered of and well understood by the Court it is considered by the court that the motion be overruled and a new trial refused.


Tuesday March 3rd 1874

Court met pursuant to adjournment

Present and Presiding

The Hon. E.T. Hall Judge &c.

Came the defendant by attorney and (illegible) an appeal in the nature of a writ of (illegible) to the next term of the Supreme Court of Tennessee to be holden at Knoxville on the Second Monday of September next from the actions of the court in refusing to grant a new trial of this cause. And tendered to the Court its bill of exceptions which is signed and sealed by the Court and ordered to be made a part of the record in this cause. And the Defendant having entered into bond with Security as required by law Said appeal is granted.

Here’s a fun fact: Ruth’s Supreme Court case was to be heard on the “Second Monday of September”. I viewed this court case on microfilm on the second Monday of September, after traveling about 500 miles to view it.

The upshot of all this? Ruth and her attorney sued the railroad. There was a jury of men. She won. The railroad wanted an appeal, which was first denied, then granted, and the case went on to the Tennessee State Supreme Court. She won again, although the physical record cannot be located.

If there was a railroad accident, wouldn’t that be in the newspaper? I asked this question at the East Tennessee Historical Society, and spent a good bit of time scrolling through the microfilm.

Microfilm of the Knoxville Chronicle, October 4, 1871

Yesterday afternoon the down passenger train ran over a cow, a mile east of Sweetwater, which threw the engine and express car from the track, badly wrecking both and causing the death of the fireman, D. A. Collins. The express messenger, J. J. Tibbs, was injured slightly, but beyond these no one else was hurt.

Mr. Collins’ death is universally regretted by his friends. He leaves a wife and three children. His remains were expected to arrive this morning, and will probably be interred this afternoon.

Now I need a map of the Sweetwater area of the ETVGRR in 1871, and I need to find where this man was buried, most probably in Knoxville.


I spent the next night with my long-time friend Susan who lives near Sweetwater. When I headed home the next day for cats and Carolina, I drove over a bridge that crossed the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad. I took a quick look east to the direction of the accident.

Ruth went on to have 4 children after Deaderick’s death.

Good night, Deaderick. I’m thinking about you.

Jim Dumas: “My Roommate is a Native of Paris”

March 15, 2017

Jim Dumas was a writer of news and features in the Paris Post-Intelligencer. He was recovering from a heart attack at a health care facility in East Tennessee when he met my father, his roommate, who was recovering from a broken hip. 

Is or isn’t this a small world?

After a serious heart attack Jan. 6, after which stint surgery was successful, I was moved to NHC Farragut for skilled care. My roommate, who stands 6-foot-6, was recovering from a broken hip. 

One of his sons, Bob, who lives in New York, is down looking after him. It wasn’t until an inquiry from my daughter that I learned the patient, Roy Rawls, was born and raised in Paris, as was I. 

Roy started naming off a list of his kinfolks a mile high, including the late Hip Rawls, who for many years operated a service station on North Market and Rison streets, as well as Curtis Rawls. 

He recalled other friends and relatives who worked with the railroads and Paris Manufacturing. His son recalls Mule Day and the World’s Biggest Fish Fry. 

“Paris was a friendly town and a good place to live,” Bob Rawls recalled. 

The Rawls moved to Lenoir City after World War II started and Roy found jobs with TVA and Oak Ridge’s atomic plant. 

Then he interviewed a sleep -talker. 

Seldom have I heard of a writer putting together a story based on what a sleep-talked said. Move over, Ripley. I’ve been there, done that. 

In the last column, I wrote of a spry retired coon-hunter named Roy Rawls, a Paris native. I never knew Roy when we grew up in Henry County, for he moved his family to Lenoir City and a job with TVA. He still has some relatives in Henry County, including Joy and Lowell Brisendine. 

From the talk of his relatives, he must have been a great hunter. From his sleep talk, Roy had to have been a crafty man at the art of treeing the coon. 

In his sleep, Roy described his coon hunts as real life, not excluding the usual jargon beloved by hunters. 

“Good thing we brought Old Tom, ’cause I don’t think this new pup is going to do the job,” I heard him say. 

Roy was upset because a man who had promised to deliver two good dogs at the railroad depot hadn’t kept his part of the bargain. “Hard to count on this new breed of hunter,” he mourned. 

“They’ve got that coon on the run, and I hear Old Tom at the front… can always count on Tom.”

I heard him say: “Paul, don’t let Old Mag get too far asunder from the pack; we could lose the coon.”

“The weather’s somewhat colder than last, and that bids for a good haul if the snow holds.”

The hunters – probably numbering four – talked about their next hunt and who would provide the truck. About midnight, they headed home with four coons treed. 

“We’ll add these to the supper we’re having next month. Hope some more hunters show up next, or they might get left out of a good feed.”

Rawls also talked about some of the years he worked with TVA, continuing to make reference to snakes. That’s where we’ll cut off. 

Anyway, try to interview someone’s sleep sometimes. 

Mr. Dumas passed away in 2005, and as a coincidence, it was in Lenoir City, where my father lived most of his life.  Thank you, Mr. Dumas, for sharing these stories of my father. 

The Revolutionary War File of John Burgess

March 1, 2017

I just don’t know how there can still be a stack of stuff that needs to be scanned and added to the blog. Because the blog? Is my scrapbook.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, there is an excellent, excellent, website called Go have a look. Go now; I’ll wait. There are thousands of transcribed pension applications and/or bounty land claims plus more.

Are you back yet? Wasn’t that amazing?!

Here’s another file that I have had for what – twenty years? I don’t know. And I keep finding more things like this, even when I thought I had finished. So now the past and the present can join together. I trot out my dog-and-pony show of old pension files, and you can read a very good transcribed version on another website.

Here are the images for John Burgess. I purchased this file in the hopes that I could find a link to tie my father’s line back to the Revolution. No such luck.


Dear Patron: We regret that the enclosed photocopies are the best we were able to obtain using our normal reproduction process.


John Burgess, N.C., S9295


St. Lawrence Post Office, N.C.



Witnesses William Burgess and John Kivett, Randolph County, NC


David Campbell and Hugh McCain



Declaration of John Burgess


John Burgess (his X mark)


Thomas Ragland, Clerk of Court, May 16, 1833


I wrote a good bit about Revolutionary William Rawls. I can’t link him to my family.

Recently I got the results of my autosomal cousin-finder DNA test. One fellow that I matched verrrrry distantly has a certain William Rawls in his family tree as the brother of the his ancestor. Because you just can’t make this stuff up…