No words can express the sadness on the loss of little ones.
No words can express the sadness on the loss of little ones.
From long ago now and far away, there are memories that are cherished. Home. Family. Gran. Aunts and uncles and first cousins. Family like my children have never gotten to be a part of, extended family. It made you feel safe, secure, loved. You learned what was important even when you did not know that you were being instilled with values and wit and humor. My ancestors James Richardson Isbell and Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell lived in that
little community of Paint Rock while other kin lived in Larkinsville and other surrounding towns and communities. In Jackson County during those days Isbell was a fairy common name. There was John Isbell, James Isbell, Allen Isbell, Levi Isbell. There were Birdwells, too. John Birdwell, Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell’s father, with all his family were in Jackson County before statehood as well. There were the Houk and the Peters families, and the
Murray lines. Rev Simeon Houk whose wife was Tobitha Murray Houk married William Deaton Jackson Murray and Susan Anna Isbell Murray in the year 1848 in Jackson County.
My Birdwell/Isbell line settled in Jackson County, Alabama after they had brought their family into the Mississippi Territory a good fourteen years before statehood. And then moved to Franklin, now Colbert County, Alabama. But first were the towns of Paint Rock and Woodville, Trenton, Pleasant Grove, and the communities of Aspel and LimRock and all the surrounding little towns and communities.
When I read the account of one man named Hodges recount in a speech in 1993 his experience and delight in being born and raised in the little community of LimRock and Aspel. His title is Judge Bob Hodges and his story sounds so much like one that my Gran may have told. It made me feel at home, safe, and longing for the good old days, the simple days, the days of extended family. The content of his speech follows:
AN ADDRESS AT LIM ROCK ‐ ASPEL HERITAGE DAY on October 9 , 1993 by Jackson County Circuit Judge Bob Hodges
Before you take anything else I say seriously, I want to read to you my father’s business card he used at Hodges Drug Store for over 30 years: “Robert Leslie Levi Buchannon Fairbanks Hodges, Jr……. Born on land lying N W One-fourth o f S E One ‐ fourth of Sec 10, Township 4 , Range 7E, Berry’s Cove, North Lim Rock, Alabama…… Now located in trading business about, 1 2 miles N E born site…….Come’n see me…. T
elelphone: Day: 2 longs and 1 short Nite: 2 longs and a half….” As you can see, he never forgot where he came from, and he was one of the best representatives o f the Lim Rock Chamber of Commerce who ever served. My roots go back here a t least three generations before me, and my memories of this community go back to the years of my childhood just before World War II. I want to share some of them with you today, because the heritage of a place, to me, means what culture that place has left us ‐ that unique and special quality a community has that is measured not just by its physical boundaries and its geographical features, but by its people: Who they were, what they believed in, and what they raised their children to be. And so, as I began thinking about what to say today, I considered In any memories of this community and its people, and ‘the special place it has occupied in my heart and in my family.
It began, for me, over 60 years ago, when three brothers left the cotton fields here on a sharecropper farm and moved ten miles up the road to the big city of Scottsboro. Each of them, my Dad, my Uncle Mess, and my Uncle Charles, never missed a chance t o remind travelers who stopped at Hodges Drug Store ‘that Lim Rock and Aspel were not just places you passed by on your way from Woodville to Scottsboro ‐ Lim Rock and Aspel, to them, was an oasis where you could come from Huntsville or Scottsboro or wherever else and quench your thirst for plain and simple beauty and good solid. working people who loved a good laugh and a rocker on the porch in the evening after a plate of pinto beans and corn bread and turnip greens, and the sound of the animals in the barn at night. The stuff a farm boy never finds, no matter how long he has been gone from the farm and no matter how far removed he has become in his dress and his income, from that simple beginning. The stuff he always longs to return to, and he can only find in a place he called home.
From my great ‐ grandfather George Johnson Hodges, known to the folks in this community only as Crockett, or my Grandfather Bob, for whom I was named, to my father, I learned legends of the people who lived here. They were told over and over to me and to others in my hearing so many times that they have become the stuff of this community. Whether they ever really happened or not is now not important to me when I think of them and of this community ‐ What i s important is the humor and the dignity of those who were portrayed in the stories I heard and the respect of the storytellers for them and for this community.
M y memories begin with evenings spent with. my grandfather here as a very small child on the porch of a two ‐ story log house which sat just over yonder around the curve from the Methodist Church. And I remember the smell in the springtime in those evenings of freshly turned earth, and of his eagerness over the crop he thought he could coax out of it, and of our watching and waiting for the sound of the Joe Wheeler to come churning through the night, its whistle blowing for the people of Lim Rock.
I remember Clyde Gentle’s store, where my father had his first job as a boy clerking and keeping up with the eggs and chickens on the rolling store, and the smell of pine wood floors and kerosene, and the sight of mule harnesses hanging from pegs, and glass jars of candy, while we waited for the Joe Wheeler to return me to Scottsboro after a weekend. Even as a child, there was a sadness on leaving, a sense that the old man in the overalls who was waving bye to me as the train pulled out from Clyde Gentles’ store, and so many others like him in this community were somehow special parts of my beginning that I wanted to come back to and hold on to until I understood the peace and the simple virtues of this place.
I remember cotton fields and hoes and long pick sacks and the hot day in the field when my grandfather and Charlie Stewart watched me drink in gulps from a cool thermos jug and then cackled and told me it was a chamber pot they kept under the wagon for themselves.
Some of the past citizens of this community, many of them now dead and gone, have become legends in my mind, because of the stories I was told about them. The athletes in Lim Rock took on superhuman proportions for me. Dr. Rayford Hodges swore to me in the drug store as he was sipping his coffee, time and again, that Rabbit Gray, the catcher for Lim Rock’s baseball team, played barefooted and once caught a foul ball that traveled 200 feet and never got higher than his head. M y father swore to me that Shine Lusk kicked a 50 yard field goal barefooted for Lim Rock’s football team, against the wind, in the closing seconds of a big game against Aspel.
The people of this community were always church ‐ going people on Sundays. My father’s earliest memories were of being carried in a wagon by my Grandmother to the Primitive Baptist Church. He remembered it well, because when they got to my Grandfather with the footwashing, he always let out a cackle when they got to the foot with the stub of a little toe he had cut off when cutting railroad ties.
The people of this community“ have always stood out for me as being folks with a never ‐ give ‐ u p attitude. Through the droughts, the flooding rains, the bitter winters, the poverty of the depression, the great tornado that swept through Paint Rock and here, the infant flu deaths that struck family after family ‐ through all those times when it seemed that a mother and father and children could not possibly hold up for another day ‐ your ancestors and mine ‐ and some of you who are older and here today ‐ squared up your shoulders and spit on your hands and went back to work and endured. I think that never ‑ give ‐ u p attitude is best remembered by me in a little story by Bob Hodges my grandfather told me that happened back in the late twenties.
My Uncle Mess, an older and larger boy than my father by far, had my father down, pinned flat to the ground, pummeling him at will, when my grandfather discovered them on his way back from milking. “What’s going on here?”, he asked. Immediately, my father, who was flat on his back and taking a mighty whipping, said: “Papa, you better get him off of me or I’m gonna kill him.”
The generations of the people of Lim Rock and Aspel before us were hard ‐ working, church ‐ going, mostly quiet ‐ spoken people, it seems from my memory and from stories I heard. But in all that toil and adversity they faced as farmers and farmers’ children, there beat within many of them the pulse of a sense of humor that no other community surpassed.
My father never got past the little nine ‐ grade school house that used to sit down the road over yonder, and he always envied his older brother, Charles, for being so bright and for getting a college education. There came a day when my father’s old school teacher came in the drug store to get a prescription filled and my father” waited on her. He was working there as a teenager then, and he had some conversation with the lady, and then called all of us employees over t meet her.
We gathered around, and he said, “Now, Miss Birdie, tell all these people what you just told me.” She looked at u s and said: “He was the brightest student I ever had. He made all A’s and h e could work any problem I ever gave him. He was a brilliant student.” My father swelled up and beamed at all of us, and the little old lady made her way to the store going out, and she turned, looked back at my father, and said: “CHARLES (not R.L.), it sure was nice to see you again.”
My grandfather and my father had the same name, except for the junior and senior that separated them. One day a juror summons came to the drug store delivered by the sheriff and made out to just R . L . Hodges. My father made a call to the courthouse and discovered that, by the birthdate, it was intended for my father. He called my grandfather to the store and told him he had a jury summons delivered there for him.
M y grandfather took the subpoena, never said a word, went to the courthouse the next week, and served on the jury. Many months went by, with never another word being said. Then, just before Christmas, Mr. Brad Stewart, a long ‐ time friend and customer of m y father’s, delivered a nice big country ham to m y father as a gift, wrapped in brown paper and labeled “R.L.Hodges.” My father put it on a table at the back of the store until he could take it home at quitting time. In comes my grandfather, walks straight to the back room, picks up the ham, and starts out the drug store. “Papa” screamed my father. “Papa ‐ that’s m ham!” “Son,” my grandfather said, “If that was my name on that jury summons, that is my name on this ham.” And off he went.
Lim Rock and Aspel people have always been known as good neighbors. My grandfather Bob Hodges’ neighbor was Charlie Stewart, who lived on the next farm down the road toward the school house. One cold January day, when the snow was on the ground and more predicted, a Saturday, my grandfather told Charlie that h e was taking his wife and children down to Paint Rock Valley to sit with a sick relative for the night, would be gone the whole weekend, and would Charlie milk the cow and feed the mule the next day. Charlie readily agreed to help out.
The next morning, more snow having fallen during the night, and bitter cold, Charlie came trudging up in the darkness, milked the cow, set the pail on the back porch, fed the mule, and on his way out through the snow, just as he passed my grandfather’s bedroom window, my grandfather threw up the shade and the window, and said, “Much obliged, Charlie.” You don’t find good neighbors like that any more.
There are many, many other stories I could tell which reflect the solid kind of people who founded this community and those who came after them. It says something about what we revere in this community and its people that those of us who have ties here come back and back again and are here today to celebrate it.
Someone once wrote that you can never really go home again, but I think we can, time and again, in our memories. Less than thirty days before my father died, just before Christmas of 1983, we took our last ride together. He was s o frail I had to help him in the car, and he was so weak he could hardly talk above a whisper. “We’ll o anywhere you want,” I said as I backed the car out of his driveway. “I’ll show you,” he said, and he just from then on, pointed his finger where he wanted me to turn.
W e came here, and w e rode through Aspel and by Jenny’s Chapel and past Gentry Hastings’ house and down to Pinky’s Store to say hello and then by the old Clyde Gentle store where he first worked as a boy. And then on we went, by the fields where there used to be cotton and by the piece of ground where the barn and log house once stood, and around the curve where the old schoolhouse once stood, and then out into Berrys Cove where he was born, until. he became too tired to continue. He wasn’t talking during the ride, but both of us were thinking of these communities and his childhood and all the years that had brought him full circle back to here. You see, he never ever forgot that this was home. And you never ever forgot to take him in. That is why I am here today, and that is why I thank you for letting me be a part of it.
The phone number has changed for us – It’s no longer ” 2 longs and 1 short”, but our “trading business“, as he said on his card, is still about 1 2 miles
northeast of Berrys Cove, and, for our family, this is still home.
Robert L . (Bob) Hodges practiced law before being elected Circuit Judge of Jackson County, Alabama. He is a highly esteemed judiciary by profession, much sought after as a speaker, and without equal as a storyteller and writer. Bob is the son of the late R . L and Zelma (Nichols) Hodges, Jr. who set an impeccable example before him.
here is a short biography of Felix Grundy Norman, Sr., 1808-1885
|FELIX GRUNDY NORMAN, lawyer, was born January 4, 1808, near Smyrna, Rutherford County, Tenn. and died August 5, 1885 at Tuscumbia [Alabama]; son of John and Margaret [Stockird] Norman who lived at Smyrna. He was denied early educational advantages, but was taught in the rudiments by an older brother. He began life as a merchant but later taught school for several years. He studied under William Casper, was admitted to the bar in Tuscumbia in the early thirties, and practiced at that point and the surrounding country until his death. He was mayor of Tuscumbia for many years, and represented his county in the legislature for sessions of 1841, 1842, 1844, 1845 and 1847-8, inclusive. Although he supported the Confederacy with his means and influence, he was debarred from active participation on account of his age. He was a Democrat; a Presbyterian; and a Mason. Married: August 17, 1848 at Dickson, to Jane Lavina, daughter of Henry and Jane [Shelton] Cook of Spotsylvania County, Va., residents for some years of Huntsville, later locating in Tuscumbia where they spent the remaining years of their lives, the former for some time government agent for the disposition of Indian lands. Children: 1. John Henry; 2. Felix Grundy, m. Della Phares, Salinas, Calif.; 3. Mary Barton, m. John R. Charlton, La Verge, Tenn.; 4. Kate Cook, m. Hall S. Kirkpatrick; 5. Thomas Edgar, m. Lee Ellis, Memphis; 6. James Beverly, last residence: Tuscumbia.
Biography of Felix Grundy Norman, Sr., 1808-1885
FELIX G. NORMAN, of Franklin [County Alabama], was born and educated in Tennessee. He represented Franklin for the first time at the session of 1841, and by continuous elections, he served in the House until the close of the session of 1847-8, since which time he has been in private life, engaged in the practice of law. While in the Legislature, Col. Norman was a very efficient member, both in debate and in Committees. He was a Democrat from honest conviction, and never departed from that faith, but always kept himself in the path of duty according to the best of his judgment. Acting on principle, he opposed at every step the resolutions of the General Assembly accepting Alabama’s portion of the proceeds of the public lands. In the same manner, he opposed what he considered the improper identity in the same resolution, on the Constitutional amendment providing for biennial sessions of the Legislature, and for the removal of the Seat of Government at the session of 1845. In all this, he only yielded to a sense of duty, to prevent injustice, or an unsafe precedent. However laudable his purpose, he course on the question of removal resulted to his injury, through influences subsequently brought to bear against him, in a political sense.
Bibliography Source: Two Hundred Years at Muscle Shoals, by Nina Leftwich, Tuscumbia, Alabama, 1935: When the cornerstone of the new 1847 Tuscumbia Masonic building was put down, a engraved cooper plaque was placed inside the stone. Text of plaque in graphic above.
The Norman home in Tuscumbia, Colbert County, Alabama:
The Norman house is an historic residence in Tuscumbia, Alabbama. The house was built in 1851 by Felix Grundy Norman, a lawyer who also served as mayor of Tuscumbia and in the Alabama Legislature from 1841to 1845 and again in 1847–48. Norman’s father-in-law was the land agent for the sale of the Chickasaw and his brother-in-law, Armistead Barton, built Barton Hall in nearby Cherokee, Alabama.
The house sits on the corner of Main and Second Street, and has two identical facades facing each street. Each face has a central pedimented portico supported by four tuscan columns. Each portico is flanked by three part windows consisting a nine-over-nine sash window which is bordered by narrow three-over-three sashes. The interior retains its Greek Revival woodwork and mantels.
JOHN NORMAN, brother of Felix Grundy Norman, was born in Rutherford County December 5, 1804, son of John and Mary Margaret (Stockard) Norman. Extent of schooling not determined. Married in Rutherford County Tennessee September 13, 1867, to Nancy Neal; children-Cynthia Jane, Margaret Rebecca, Mary A., Harriett E., Martha E., John B., Josephine B., and Sarah F. Norman. Removed to Carroll County Tennessee, c.1828, to engage in farming and clearing landholdings in 8th civil district. Appointed a trustee of Huntingdon Academy, Carroll County, in 1845 but resigned in 1848. Elected constable, 1832; sheriff, 1838-44; clerk of circuit court, 1854-56; county judge, 1856; one of committee to plan for repair of courthouse and building jail. Served in the Tennessee House, 33rd and 34th (Reconstruction) General Assemblies, 1859-61; 1865-67; representing Carroll County; served in the Tennessee Senate, 35th General Assembly, 1867-69; representing Carroll, Dyer, and Gibson counties; member Opposition Party in 33rd Assembly; Unionist in 34th and 35th. Mason; member of Zion Presbyterian Church. Died in Madison County October 5, 1874.
memories die with them as do life experiences and lessons learned. It is imperative that those of a younger generation preserve the memories of their forefathers; if one does not know their own and family history, how can he or she judge what the future should hold?
How I wish I could find photos and information on the Golden Gloves boxing of yesteryear, especially on those who got into the ring. And that would include Daddy, James Murray.
A name that you may recall from history is that of Governor George Wallace. He was also a boxer in his youth. He and my Daddy knew each other, were friends and that was a life long friendship. Perhaps they were introduced to each other during their boxing days. They had a lot in common. They were both stubborn, especially if they knew they were right about something. Neither would forfeit a fight even when encouraged to ‘fix’ a fight. They would rather quit than lose when victory could be theirs.
JFK and George Wallace visited TVA in Muscle Shoals to be the keynote speaker at the 30th anniversary of TVA.The date of the event was 18 May, 1963. Here is a photo of JFK and George Wallace on the TVA grounds on that date.
The fighting years of their youth must have been exciting. George Wallace received the moniker “The Fighting Judge” and James Murray, well he simply became known as “Daddy” to five children.
My brother related a story to me that I will treasure. He said that we were at one of George Wallace’s rallies, and when George Wallace saw our Daddy something notable happened. He came over and body hugged him and greeted him warmly. That was likely the rally I remember that was held at Spring Park in Tuscumbia. If only someone had a camera handy at that moment. What a treasure a photo would have been.
It was a sweltering hot day in the south in the 1960s, and a memorable one. The political rallies held at Spring Park in Tuscumbia, Alabama every year on the Labor Day weekend were touted as late as 1993 in the Times Daily newspaper as Alabama’s oldest continuously held Labor Day rally. The festivities were varied, the crowds were big and the snow cones were cold.
George Wallace came to Muscle Shoals, Alabama along with President John F Kennedy to present at the anniversary of the TVA Authority. He later endured an assassination attempt while running for President. The bullet did not kill him but he was in agony for the rest of his life as a result of the gunshot wounds. He endured the pain because he was a trained fighter.
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.” 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.
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.
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.
as evidenced even as far back as 1860.
Documented in the 1860 Lauderdale County, Alabama Slave Schedule for District 2 a 33 year-old female slave had five sets of twins in succession and all but three were alive at the time of the census record. The enumeration took place first day of June, 1860.
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:
Jeremiah Lucas enlisted in the Third Regiment on 10 Mar 1779 and was discharged in August 1779
1780 Age: 32
Jeremiah served in the militia under Colo. Roebuck after the fall of Charleston (Roster of S. Carolina Patriots in the American Revolutionary War).
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.
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 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.
and maybe, just maybe, turn out to be a hero in the end. In this case William M Isbell and brother James H Isbell were heroes of the battle of San Jacinto.
The Isbell family line in the Shoals area runs deep. One of the Isbell sons was William. The history of his life is so compelling.
William M Isbell was born in 1816 in Greenville, Green County, Tennessee on the 15th day of June and died 2 December 1877. When just a boy, William Isbell’s father, Dr James R Isbell, gave his son a good whooping after he caught him in a lie. William ran away from his homeplace and went to Abington, Virginia where he lived until fall of 1834. He traveled to Texas and established himself a farm on Cummings Creek. A number, too many, researchers give Dr James R Isbell’s wife’s name as Elizabeth Birdwell which is in error. The Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell is my line and she was married to a different James Isbell. Neither Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell or her husband James Isbell ever set a foot in Texas.
William M Isbell and James H Isbell’s grandparents were Zachariah and Elizabeth Isbell of the Watauga Settlement which of itself is very historic as well as his participation at Kings Mountain. William Zachariah Isbell was born in the year 1769 in Fort Watauga, Warren, Tennessee/North Carolina and died 1825 in Warren, Tennessee. It is unclear whether William Zachariah Isbell was a brother or a first cousin of Dr James R Isbell. who was the father of the San Jacinto heroes. James R. Isbell was probably a son or grandson of Zachariah Isbell Sr. An Isbell family researcher, Sarah Coon commented on a genealogy forum with this statement,“ It is thought that James R. Isbell may have been a son of Zachariah Isbell, Jr. But of course, there is no proof.” Ray Isbell, a cousin and avid researcher of the Isbell families provides this insight: Zach Isbell Jr. may have been too young to be James R.’s father. One of his older brothers Jason or William was more likely James’ father.
Jason Isbell also lived in Greene County, Tennessee for a time, as did brother William. Their sister Hannah Isbell (b. c1747) lived in Greene County, Tennessee when her first husband Samuel Williams died there 1788 and in 1791 when she married second to James Taylor. Brother William Isbell was bondsman at that marriage.
William Zachariah Isbell and Sarah Richardson Isbell were also the parents of Levi Isbell who married Sarah H Birdwell and James Isbell who married Elizabeth Birdwell. Levi and James Isbell and their families are the ancestors of many Shoals area Isbell families. Because it is an important facet of our history, a synopsis of the settlement from the Watauga Association follows:
During the spring of 1835 William M Isbell enlisted in Captain Robert M Williamson’s company of Colonel John H Moore’s regiment at Gonzales, Texas. Captain Williamson was referred to as “Three-legged Willie”. The enlistment was for a two month campaign against the Indians on the upper Brazos River. In October of the same year he joined Captain Thomas Alley’s company and was engaged in December in the Siege of Bexar.
He then went about his business and planted a crop of corn on Mill Creek in Guadalupe County, Texas. He then joined Captain Moseley Baker’s regiment as a soldier in Company D. That was part of Colonel Edward Burleson’s First Regiment of Texas Volunteers. He participated in the battle of San Jacinto as a private. His older brother, James H Isbell, served in the same unit as a private. James H Isbell enlisted in Nacogdoches on the 14th of January 1836. There is documentation located to prove James H Isbell’s service. It follows:
ISBELL, JAMES H. — Born in Tennessee. He was a son of James R. Isbell who died in Austin County, September 6, 1840. In the Headright Certificate issued to him February 3, 1838 by the Harrisburg County Board for one-third of a league of land, it is stated that he come to Texas in January, 1836. He subscribed to the oath of allegiance to Texas at Nacogdoches, January 14, 1836. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 1380 for 320 acres of land June 23, 1840 for having served in the army from March 1 to June 1, 1836. He was a member of Captain Moseley Baker’s “San Felipe Company” at San Jacinto. On August 20, 1838 he received Donation Certificate No. 516 for 640 acres for having participated in the battle. On January 31, 1838 he received a Bounty Certificate, unnumbered, for 320 acres of land for having served in the army from July 20 to November 20, 1836. The Deed Records of Fayette and Harris Counties show Mr. Isbell as living in Fayette County in 1845 and Harris County in 1853. Isbell died in Bell County in 1858. Mr. James H. Isbell left a widow, Mrs. Amanda Isbell, and three minor children, Ann, Kate, and James Isbell.
According to Johnnie Belle MacDonald in her book, The Soldiers of San Jacinto published in 2008, this is recorded: At four o’clock one April afternoon 172 years ago, 934 men, unwashed, underfed, caked with mud and dressed in rags, began a slow walk through knee-high grass. A half hour later they crested a low hill. What they did in the next eighteen minutes made our world possible. These were the Soldiers of San Jacinto.
James H Isbell is buried at South Belton Cemetery in Belton which is in Bell County, Texas. William M Isbell is buried at Tehuacana Cemetery in Mexia which is in Limestone County, Texas, USA
Having left the army, William Isbell, went back home to Mill Creek and dutifully harvested his crop. During the winter of 1836 he worked at Jan Long’s tavern in Brazoria. There he tended bar. During the period of time he lived in Houston, Texas (1837-1840) he “wagoned” west for Major Bennett” and in 1841 William Isbell campaigned against Indians under Mark B. Lewis and Thomas Green. After returning to San Antonio he served for six months as a Texas Ranger under John Coffee Hays.
William Isbell removed to Washington County, Texas sometime during the winter of 1842; and then removed to Caldwell, Burleson County, Texas. In Caldwell by 1860 he owned a farm valued at $600 and $2,700 in personal property.
Isbell married Olivia Elvira Jackson on January 13, 1843. They had eight children, three of whom died at an early age. Olivia died in 1865, and in 1867 William married Mary Jane Woods Franklin, a widow. They had six children, three of whom died young. Isbell was blinded in an accident in 1856. “I have never seen my present wife and younger children,” he ended his personal narrative, published in the 1872 Texas Almanac, “as I have been entirely blind for fourteen years.” He died at the Burleson County community of Prairie Mound on December 11, 1877.
The known children by his wife Olivia Elvira Jackson Isbell are: Martha Jane Isbell 1846-1900; Emily Cemantha Isbell 1848-1848; James Reed Isbell 1850-1865; Euphemia Catherine Isbell born 1852; William Douglas Isbell 1855-1866?; John Isaac Isbell 1857-1928; Alexander Marens Isbell born 1861; Julia Isbell born 1864. The known children by his wife Mary Jane Wood Franklin (widow who was half his age) are: William Isbell born 1867; James Isbell 1869-1880; Greenville Tennessee Isbell 1870-1951; Simon M Isbell 1873-1886; Kittie Isbell 1875-1886; Lucinda H Isbell 1877-1888.
William Banta and J. W. Caldwell, Jr.., Twenty-seven Years on the Texas Frontier (1893; rev. by L. G. Parks, Council Hill, Oklahoma, 1933).
Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986).
Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto(Houston: Anson Jones, 1932).
Homer S. Thrall, People’s Illustrated Almanac: Texas Handbook and Immigrants Guide for 1880 (St. Louis: Thompson, 1880). Homer S. Thrall, A Pictorial History of Texas(St. Louis: Thompson, 1879).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.
Thomas W. Cutrer, “ISBELL, WILLIAM,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fis03), accessed July 05, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
that may have been down on their luck in hard times, the names of those in the Colbert County Almshouse enumerated as part of the 1920 Federal Census by Melvin H Elkins from the 29th to 31st of January in 1920 will be included here.
The Almshouse, or Poor House as many called it, was in the Camp Smith area of Colbert County; in District: 0013. There was a lot of shame that stigmatized those who were in a circumstance to warrant housing and care in such a facility. But, truly back in those days, if it was necessary to be in an Almshouse, one really needed the help and were likely elderly and sometimes without family to look after them.
Fred W Bradford was the keeper of the Almshouse in 1920. Some give his middle name as Washington while others give his middle name as Walter. His obituary gives his name as Fredrick Walter Bradford; his parents were David Washington Bradford 1836-1866 and Julia Jarmon Bradford Grey 1844-1900.
Fred Walter Bradford married four times. His first marriage circa 1885 was to Nancy Caldona Tharp. They had the following known children: Fredrick Washington Bradford 1892 -1957, Callie Fredonia Bradford 1896, Julia Dovia Bradford Cantrell 1887 – 1973, Ida Virginia Bradford Stonecipher 1889 – 1928 and Massie L Bradford 1897.
His second marriage in 1901 was to Louvicey Lindsey. They had the following children: Willie E Bradford 1905-1935, William S Bradford 1906. There may have been other children.
His third marriage in 1908 was to Sarah Josephine “Josie” Duncan Sledge. Her first marriage was to Thomas Ervin Sledge (son of William Henry Sledge, grandson of Macklen Sledge). Two Sledge children were from her marriage to Thomas Ervin Sledge: Thomas Grady Sledge and Bessie Ernestine Sledge Green. Fred Walter Bradford and Josie Duncan Sledge Bradford had the following children: Lillian g Bradford born and died 1909, Johnie E Bradford 1911, and Walter L Bradford 1914-1952. Josie Duncan Sledge Bradford died in 1931.
The fourth marriage for Fred W Bradford was in 1936 to Odell whose last name is not known. Fred W Bradford died in 1947 and she is listed as his wife in his obitary
Thomas Grady Sledge and Mamie Hand Sledge lived beside his mother and stepfather on the 1920 census. The age of Grady was 18 and his young wife’s age was 15. Next to them was the Colbert County Almshouse of which Fred W Bradford was the keeper. Listed in the household of Fred W and wife Sarah J Bradford were sons Willie E Bradford age 14, Johnie E Bradford age 9, Walter L Bradford age 5 and Fred’s stepdaughter Bessie Sledge age 19 and single.
Those listed as living at the Almshouse were:
Darty, Bill – age 55, married, born in Georgia;
Darty, Sarah – age 66, married, born in Alabama;
Sharp, Callie – age 81, widowed, born in Georgia;
Briley, Fronia – age 70, single, born in Alabama;
Shield, Julia – age 60, widowed, born in South Carolina;
Clovel, Ada – 64, widowed (naturalized and immigrated 1865), her spoken language is French, born in France;
Marony, Alt – age 38, widowed, born in Alabama;
Stidham, Wesley – age 71, married born in Alabama;
Walter, Will – age 60, single, born in Arkansas;
Birnlsadde, James – age 75 , born in Alabama, and
Shaw, Henry – age 76, black, married, born in Tennessee.
Most of those inmates of the Almshouse do not have a surname that I am familiar with in our Shoals area. Perhaps some of their descendants are searching for them.