The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Revolutionary War

Crackerjacks, anyone?

roy acuff
roy acuff

Roy Claxton Acuff

As a country music singer, he is best remembered as the “King of Country Music” and is often credited with moving the genre from its early string band and “hoedown” format to the star singer-based format that helped make it internationally renowned. He was a prolific songwriter and established Acuff-Rose Publishing that held the rights to a multitude of songs which were hits. Acuff-Rose signed acts such as Hank Williams, the Louvin Brothers, Don Gibson, John D Loudermilk, Boudleaux & Felice Bryant, Redd Stewart, Roy Orbison, and the Everly Brothers and Pee Wee King’s “Tennessee Waltz.”. In 1952 Hank Williams told Ralph Gleason this about Roy Acuff, “He’s the biggest singer this music ever knew. You booked him and you didn’t worry about crowds. For drawing power in the South, it was Roy Acuff, then God.”

His parents are Simon E Neill Acuff who was born 1877 and died in 1943 and Ida Carr Acuff who was born 1879 and died in 1969. His siblings included Paul Briscoe Acuff 1900-1984 and Claude Acuff 1909-1971.

He was born Roy Claxton Acuff, the third of five children, into a musical family. His father was a Baptist preacher and accomplished fiddle player and his mother played the piano. During his early years, the Acuff house was a popular place for local gatherings and at these events, he would often amuse people by balancing farm tools on his chin. He also learned to play harmonica and jaw harp at a young age. The Acuffs were a fairly prominent Union County, Tennessee family. Roy’s paternal grandfather, Coram Acuff, had been a Tennessee state senator, and Roy’s maternal grandfather was a local physician. The talent was passed through to Roy’s father and mother, and himself.

In 1919 his family relocated to Fountain City (now a suburb of Knoxville), Tennessee, where he attended Central High School and sang in the school chapel’s choir as well as performing in school plays. His primary passion was athletics and he was a three-sport standout at Central, and after graduating in 1925, he was offered a scholarship to Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, but turned it down.

He played with several small baseball clubs around Knoxville, worked at odd jobs, and occasionally boxed. In 1929 he tried out for the Knoxville Smokies, a minor-league baseball team then affiliated with the New York (now San Francisco) Giants. After a series of collapses in spring training following a sunstroke, ended his baseball career prematurely and the effects left him ill for several years to the point where he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1930. Not only was he attracted to the sport of baseball, he had a penchant for fighting – after his family moved to Knoxville, he was frequently arrested for fighting.

While recovering, he took up the fiddle, often playing on the family’s front porch in late afternoons after the sun went down. His father gave him several records of regionally-renowned fiddlers, such as ‘Fiddlin’ John Carson and Gid Tanner, which were important influences on his early style. In 1932 he hired on with Dr. Hauer’s Medicine Show as one of its entertainers where he met legendary Appalachian banjoist Clarence Ashley, from whom he learned “The House of the Rising Sun” and “Greenback Dollar,” both of which he later recorded.

In 1934 he left the medicine show circuit and began playing at local shows with various musicians in the Knoxville area. That year, guitarist Jess Easterday and Hawaiian guitarist Clell Summey joined Acuff to form the Tennessee Crackerjacks, which performed regularly on Knoxville radio stations WROL and WNOX. Within a year, the group had added bassist Red Jones and changed its name to the Crazy Tennesseans. The popularity of his rendering of the song “The Great Speckled Bird” helped the group land a contract with the American Record Company, for whom they recorded several dozen tracks (including the band’s best-known track, “Wabash Cannonball”) in 1936 and 1937 before leaving over a contract dispute.

Acuff headed north to Chicago for a recording session, which resulted in 20 different songs. In addition to “The Great Speckled Bird,” he recorded “Steamboat Whistle Blues” and “The Wabash Cannonball,” another Tennessee standard that featured the singer imitating the sound of a train whistle; he also made a handful of risqué numbers during these sessions, which were released under the name the Bang Boys.

In 1938 the Crazy Tennesseans relocated to Nashville, Tennessee to audition for the Grand Ole Opry and they were offered a contract. He changed the group’s name to the “Smoky Mountain Boys,” referring to the mountains near where he and his bandmates were raised. Shortly after the band joined the Opry, Clell Summey left the group, and was replaced by dobro player Beecher (Pete) Kirby, or “Bashful Brother Oswald.” His powerful lead vocals and Kirby’s dobro playing and high-pitched backing vocals gave the band its distinctive sound. By 1939, Jess Easterday had switched to bass to replace Red Jones, and Acuff had added guitarist Lonnie “Pap” Wilson and banjoist Rachel Veach to fill out the band’s line-up.

Within a year, Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys rivaled long-time Opry banjoist Uncle Dave Macon as the troupe’s most popular act. In 1940 he and his band traveled to Hollywood, California, where they appeared in the motion picture “Grand Ole Opry.” He also appeared in several subsequent B-movies, including “O, My Darling Clementine” (1943), in which he played a singing sheriff, and “Night Train to Memphis” (1946), the title of which comes from a song he recorded in 1940.

In 1943, Acuff was initiated into the East Nashville Freemasonic Lodge in Tennessee and he would remain a lifelong member. Later that same year, Acuff invited Tennessee Governor Prentice Cooper to be the guest of honor at a gala held to mark the nationwide premier of the Opry’s Prince Albert show. Cooper rejected the offer, however, and lambasted Acuff and his “disgraceful” music for making Tennessee the “hillbilly capital of the United States.”democrats and roy acuff A Nashville journalist reported the governor’s comments to Acuff, and suggested Acuff run for governor himself. While Acuff initially did not take the suggestion seriously, he did accept the Republican Party nomination for governor in 1948.for sheriff roy acuff

 

In 1942 he and songwriter Fred Rose formed Acuff-Rose Publishing Company. He originally sought the company in order to publish his own music, but soon realized there was a high demand from other country artists, many of whom had been exploited by larger publishing firms. Due in large part to Rose’s ASCAP connections and gifted ability as a talent scout, Acuff-Rose quickly became the most important publishing company in country music. In 1946, the company signed country singer Hank Williams, and in 1950 published their first major hit, Patti Page’s rendition of “Tennessee Waltz”.

Later that year, he left the Grand Ole Opry after a management dispute. In 1948 he made an unsuccessful run for the governor of Tennessee on the Republican ballot. He then spent several years touring the Western United States, although demand for his appearances dwindled with the lack of national exposure and the rise of musicians such as Ernest Tubb and Eddy Arnold, who were more popular with younger audiences. He eventually returned to the Opry however, by the 1960s, his record sales had dropped off considerably.

After nearly losing his life in an automobile accident outside of Sparta, Tennessee in 1965, he contemplated retiring, making only token appearances on the Opry stage and similar shows, and occasionally performing duos with long-time bandmate Bashful Brother Oswald. In 1972 his career received a brief resurgence in the folk revival movement after he appeared on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” paving the way for one of the defining moments of his career, which came on the night of March 16, 1974, when the Opry officially moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the Grand Ole Opry House at Opryland, Tennessee. The first show at the new venue opened with a huge projection of a late-1930s image of Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys onto a large screen above the stage. A recording from one of the band’s 1939 appearances was played over the sound system, with the iconic voice of Opry founder George Hay introducing the band, followed by the band’s performance of “Wabash Cannonball”. Here is the access to his 1940 rendition of “Wabash Cannonball” on youtube (you will have to click on the link to go to youtube because the embed feature has been disabled):

Roy Acuff was called the King of Country Music, and for more than 60 years he lived up to that title. If any performer embodied country music, it was Roy Acuff. Throughout his career, Acuff was a champion for traditional country values, enforcing his beliefs as a performer, a music publisher, and as the Grand Master of the Grand Ole Opry. Acuff was the first country music superstar after the death of Jimmie Rodgers, pioneering an influential vocal style that complemented the spare, simple songs he was performing. Generations of artists, from Hank Williams to George Jones, have been influenced by Acuff, and countless others have paid respect to him. At the time of his death in 1992, he was still actively involved in the Grand Ole Opry, and was as popular as ever.

The beginning of the 1980s was a difficult period for Acuff, as he experienced the death of his wife and several longtime band members, including pianist Jimmie Riddle and fiddler Howdy Forrester. In 1987, he released his final charting record that was an inspirational duet with Charlie Louvin called “The Precious Jewel.”

In the 1980s, after the death of his wife, Mildred (Mildred Louise Douglas Acuff 1914-1981) he moved into a house on the Opryland grounds and continued performing. He arrived early most days at the Opry, performing odd jobs, such as stocking soda in backstage refrigerators. In 1991, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts and given a lifetime achievement award by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the first Country music artist to receive the esteemed honor. Additionally, in 1962 he became the first living inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Two museums have been named in his honor, the Roy Acuff Museum at Opryland and the Roy Acuff Union Museum and Library in his hometown of Maynardville. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 1541 Vine Street. He died of congestive heart failure in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 89.

During his musical career, he recorded a total of 43 albums (from 1949 to 1987) and 20 singles (from 1936 to 1989). One son, Roy Neill Acuff was born 1943; and died in 2015. Roy Claxton Acuff is buried at Spring Hill Cemetery at Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. He rests in a plot in Hill Crest Garden.

historical marker Maynardsville TN Roy Acuff

What is so interesting about Roy Claxton Acuff is his kin to our Isbell line through his mother Ida Carr Acuff.

Ida Carr’s parents were: Alonzo Willett Carr born 1855 and  Mary Paralee Sharp

Roy Acuff’s descent from Zachariah Isbell:

Zachariah Isbell born circa 1722 and wife Elizabeth Polly Miller. Zachariah Isbell and Elizabeth Polly Miller had a daughter Lovisa Isbell.

Lovisa Isbell  was born 21 November 1743 in Charleston, Dorchester County, South Carolina and died 6 April 1808 in Jonesborough, Washington County, Tennessee. She married John Carr, a soldier of the Revolutionary War, in 1756 in Charleston, Dorchester County, South Carolina.  John Carr was born 1737 or 1743 in Charleston, Dorchester County, South Carolina and died in 1818 in Washington County, Tennessee. His birth is given as 10 or 19 Jan 1737 by some researchers and as 21 Nov 1743 by other researchers. His death is given as 6 April or 11 June 1818 by other researchers. John Carr and Lovisa Isbell Carr are buried at Carr-Crumley-Krouse Cemetery in Jonesborough, Washington County, Tennessee.

Ralph Bolton Carr made application to DAR on the Revolutionary War service of John Carr, husband of Lovisa Isbell Carr, as a fourth-great-grandson of John Carr. John Carr’s service is documented in the South Carolina Archives as having served in Captain Thomas Woodward’s 8th Company of Rangers under Col William Thompson, and also having served later in Col  William Thompson in the 3rd Regiment of South Carolina. John Carr’s Revolutionary service is documented through the genealogical line as provided by 1) the family Bible, 2) the family Bible in possession of Mrs Peter Naher (who is the aunt of Ralph Bolton Carr) of Johnson City, Tennessee, by by the Will of Alfred Carr, 3) by the family Bible in possession of Mr Paul Carr (uncle of Ralph Bolton Carr) in Johnson City, Tennessee and marriage records of Washington County on page 44 Marriage Records 1787-1840 by Mullins, 4) by Willis of Washington County, Tennessee, Book 1, page 302 of Richard Carr, and 5) Will Book 1, page 166 Will of John Carr, Washington County Will, State of Franklin DAR Publication.

The descent of Roy Claxton Acuff continues with the son of Lovisa Isbell and John Carr through their son John Carr who married Dorcas McCubbin. One of the children of John and Dorcas McCubbin Carr was James McCubbin Carr.

James McCubbin Carr was born 5 February 1801 in Claiborne County, Tennesssee and died 8 September 1889 in Union County, Tennessee. He was amarried to Sarah Sallie Rogers and one of their seven known children was Richard Jackson Carr. Richard Jackson Carr was born 26 February 1826 in Claiborne County, Tennessee and died 12 February 1899 in Maynardville, Union County, Tennessee. Some give his death year 1889, but it is likely that 1899 is correct. His burial place has not with certainty known. Richard Jackson Carr married Nancy Ann Marshall and one of their sons was Alonzo Willet Carr.

Alonzo Willet Carr was born 1 July 1855 in Union County, Tennessee and died 2 July 1933 n Clinton, Anderson County, Tennessee. He was laid to rest in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee. Alonzo W Carr married Mary Paralee Sharp and they had seven known children: Ormiston T Carr born 1876, Charles A Carr born 1877, James Carr born 1883, Ollie Carr born 1883, Nellie M Carr born 1891, Trula F 1896 and Ida Florence Carr. Ida Carr was born 21 October 1879 and died 17 September  1969 in Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee.

Ida Florence Carr and  Rev Simon Ed Neill “Eddy”Acuff were married 25 September 1898 in Union County, Tennessee, USA, likely in Maynardville. By 1930 they were living in Knoxville, Tennessee. and later located to Nashville. There may have been a good reason for that re-location. Their known children were:  Paul Briscoe Acuff 1900-1984, Nancy Juanita Acuff 1901-1985,  Roy Claxton Acuff 1903-1992, Susie Lee Acuff 24 September 1905-22 December 1990, and Claud R Acuff 1910-1971. Nancy Juanita Carr married Harstell D Phillips. Susie Lee Acuff married  Robert L Allen.

Roy Acuff’s ancestors with the surname Isbell included many Revolutionary War Soldiers and veterans of many of wars and boatloads of Ministers of the Gospel. The state of Tennessee was founded by Zachariah Isbell. He was a member of the Watauga Settlement and among the original 13 Commissioners who set up the settlement. Zachariah and many other Isbell kin were at King’s Mountain and some of the fiercest and most pivotal battles of the Revolution.

And the beat goes on with talent of the musical variety in our local Isbell family in northwestern Alabama. A local Isbell relative, Jason Isbell. He earned two Grammies this year. His group is known as Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

Isbell cousin, Roy Acuff seems to have been the first to record “The House of the Rising Sun.” His rendition dates back to 1938.

Hmmm, the Crackerjacks are not just Tennessean, but Alabamian, too.


That David Crockett was very prominent in our family lines…

he even married at least one of our allied ancestors.

I am in the process of proving a number of different family lines that date back to a patriot who either served or contributed in the Revolutionary War. Among those is Jeremiah Lucas. Some of the documentation of his patriotic service follows:

  • 1779   Age: 31 Roster of SC Patriots

Jeremiah Lucas enlisted in the Third Regiment on 10 Mar 1779 and was discharged in August 1779

  • 1780  Age: 32

    South Carolina

    Jeremiah served in the militia under Colo. Roebuck after the fall of Charleston (Roster of S. Carolina Patriots in the American Revolutionary War).

  • 1786 19 Aug  Age: 38

Jeremiah Lucas Rev pay Description: Militia pay since fall of Charleston in Roebucks Regiment

Jeremiah Lucas was the father of our Willis Lucas who was a Physician. Willis Lucas, M D was the father of our Sarah Frances Lucas who married Jacob Duckett Casey as his third wife and had our Willis Robert Lucas Casey who was born about 1841 in Lauderdale County, Alabama.

Jeremiah Lucas and wife Sarah Willis Ingram Lucas had ten known children. They were: Joseph Lucas 1773 – 1848, Ingram William Lucas 1777 – 1841, George Lucas 1782 – 1855, Jesse Lucas who was born 1788, Jeremiah Lucas born 1791, William “Willie” Lucas 1793 – 1861, Peggy Lucas born 1797, and Sarah Elizabeth H Lucas who was born 9 January 1801 in Union County, South Carolina; she died 13 July 1851 in Greenville, Hunt County, Texas.

Davy Crockett home

Home of Davy Crockett in Lawrence County, Tennessee

Sarah Elizabeth H. Lucas married John Hampton Hamilton, son of Jeremiah & Ann (Hampton) Hamilton on 7 Jul 1819 in Davy Crockett’s home, Lawrence County, Tennessee. The marriage was solemnized by Davy Crockett.

Place and Cause of death as transcribed from the Family Bible by Levin Hamilton and in a letter to Uncle Asberry & Aunt Liza Hamilton, dated August 13, 1882, Paris, Texas reads:  “Sarah H. Hamilton died at Greenville, Texas July 13, 1851 aged 50 years 6 mo 4 days- of fever. Her end was peaceful and happy rejoicing that she was going home to join those who had gone before “Blessed are the Dead who die in Lord”. C. A. Warfield.

Sarah Elizabeth H Polly Lucas Hamilton

Sarah Lucas Hamilton was the third person to be buried in East Mount Cemetery, Greenville, Hunt County Texas [Source: Honorable Mention Early Families Hunt Co, TX  R976.4272, Vol 3, page 34; record is located at the Dallas Public Library]. Her grave marker cannot be found and a letter to cemetery department brought news that the records went no further back than 1920. A fire had destroyed the records before that. After the fire a census was taken and if the grave was unmarked or unreadable they simply put “unknown”.

Known children of John Hampton Hamilton and Sarah Elizabeth H Lucas Hamilton were : William Carroll “Bill” Hamilton born 1820; Ann Hampton Hamilton Adams born 1821; Joseph Decator  Hamilton born 1822; Martha Parrom Hamilton Warfield born 1824; Jane Anderson Hamiton Tennyson born  1825; Jeremiah Jay “Jerry” Hamilton born 1826; Asberry Francis Hamilton born 1828; Joshua Butcher Hamilton born 1829; John Hampton Hamilton born 1831; Sarah Elizabeth Washington Hamilton Wilson born 30 Apr 1834; and George Willis Washington Hamilton born 30 Apr 1834.

There is no grave marker, but she was the third person buried in East Mount Cemetery. Over time her marker has been lost. East Mount Cemetery is located in Greenville in Hunt County, Texas.

Sarah Elizabeth H “Polly” Lucas Hamilton has qualified for the distinction of the Citizen Medallion of the Republic of Texas. The Citizen Medallion is to mark the graves or cenotaphs of people whose residence was in The Republic of Texas before 19 February 1846 before Texas became a state.

  • Citizen medallion Republic of Texas


Generals friends of Generals…

in the Revolutionary War and forward…hmmm now how could that impact a family heritage?

Colonel and then Lieutenant Levi Casey and likely his brothers and father fought alongside of some of the most famous generals in history. General Francis Marion “The Swamp Fox” and General Thomas Sumter to name two. General Thomas Sumter and Levi Casey were close friends.

South Carolina Generals

Francis Marion (1732 – 1795) was born in Berkeley County, S.C. A planter, he had fought against the Cherokees in 1759 and 1761, and when the American Revolution began, he volunteered and led “irregulars” in several engagements; because his sprained ankle had led him to leave Charleston, S.C., before its surrender to the British, he was available to command the remaining resistance in South Carolina after the colonials’ loss at Camden, S.C. Known as the “Swamp Fox” because the British Col. Tarleton called him “this damned old fox” and because he operated out of a secret hideout on a river island, he used guerrilla tactics to strike at stronger British and Loyalist forces, disrupting enemy communications, capturing supplies, and freeing prisoners before disappearing into the wilderness. From 1781 on he led his troops under Gen. Nathaniel Greene. After the war, he served in the South Carolina senate and commanded Fort Johnson in Charleston harbor (1784–90).

William Washington was born on February 28, 1752 in Stafford County, Virginia. His parents intended him to join the ministry and sent him to study with a theologian. However, in early 1776 he accepted a captain’s commission in the Continental Army commanded by his cousin, George Washington, and then fought at Long Island, Trenton (where he was wounded), and Princeton. In 1780, he transferred to the Army’s Southern Division and fought in a series of skirmishes around Charleston. The following year, he led his cavalry to victory in close combat with British regulars at Cowpens. His success there, in particular his hand-to-hand saber battle with the British commander Tarleton, earned Washington a Congressional medal. He then joined the American forces in North Carolina for battles at Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirks Hill, and Eutaw Springs, where he was wounded and captured. He remained a paroled prisoner-of-war in Charleston until the city’s evacuation by the British at the end of 1782. After the war, Washington stayed in Charleston, where he served in the state legislature. He later refused a gubernatorial nomination, but in 1798 returned to public service as a brigadier general for service in America’s undeclared naval war with France. Washington died on March 6, 1810.

Thomas Sumter (1734 – 1832) was born in Hanover County, Va. Raised on the frontier, a veteran of the French and Indian War, he settled in South Carolina in 1765. During the American Revolution he led a partisan campaign against the British in the Carolinas and the success of his small force gained him the nickname, “Gamecock of the Revolution” (and led to his name being given to the island-fort off Charleston where the Civil War began). After the war, Sumter sat in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

Andrew Pickens, 1739 — 1817 was born near Paxtang, Pa. The son of Irish immigrants, he settled in South Carolina in 1763. In the American Revolution, he helped defeat the Loyalist forces at Kettle Creek, Ga., contributed to the decisive victory at Cowpens, S.C. (1781), and commanded the forces that captured Augusta, Ga.


Here is an excellent example of why our children need to…

be taught cursive writing in school. Lt Levi Casey issuing orders to troops during the Revolutionary War. This document is the actual handwriting and signature of Lt Levi Casey issuing an order to his soldiers during the Revolutionary War. It is dated 7 Aug 1782. Levi Casey rose in rank from Colonel to Lieutenant to Brigadier General during his tenure in the Revolutionary War. He was one of the reknown OverMountain men as was David Crockett.

Br General Levi Casey served terms as a House of Representative and then had been re-elected Senator but did not get to serve his last elected term because he had a massive heart attack and died Feb 1807. He was first interred at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC and in circa 1832 he was re-interred in the Congressional Cemetery.

His widow, along with her Duckett nephew came to Alabama before 1820 and settled in Lauderdale County, Alabama in the community of Rawhide. She, some of her children, and other relatives are buried in the Casey Family Cemetery on what used to be her property.

Transcription:
D____
I desire you will draft or other ways order one third of your company to hold themselves in readiness to march by the fifteenth of this instant to the Cherikees you are to provide flower/flour for sixty days provisions for each man and two good beef cattle and as pack horses a[re] not to be had would recommend that each man take horse and that one half carry forward and the other half act as horsemen and change as they can agree or be ordered and any that have not any horses of their own you are to impress in the bounds of your own company you are to collect all the swords you can and put them into the hands of the men.

August [symbols] 7th 1782                                                                                                                Cap [symbols] Saxon

I am ____and hum [symbols]
(take this to mean your humble servant)
Lt Levi Casey

Official Orders 7 Aug 1782

Official Orders 7 Aug 1782