Typescript of circa 1955 essay by Sue Freiley, of Chattanooga. Copy given to Rosemary Acuff Hamrick, who donated a copy to the Bledsoe County Library in 2002.
I have attempted to write this as my mother, Della May Freiley (Wilson), cousin, Alma Freiley (Hutchinson) (Howard), aunt, Mamie Freiley (Acuff) (Morgan) and great-great aunt, Rebecca Freiley, told it to me.
John Freiley and Betsy Billingsley were married in the year of 1817 in Kentucky near Boonsboro. They made their home in a double log cabin situated in a valley below Chigger Hill near what is now Middleboro, Kentucky.
Great-great Grandfather John had a sister named Jane. She and her family lived a few miles south of the Freiley farm. Her husband was named Boone. Their eldest son was called Daniel after his Grandfather, Daniel Boone; the same Daniel who lived in South Carolina and made a trip through the Cumberland Gap of the Appalachians into Kentucky for the purpose of trapping. He it was who led a group of settlers through the Gap and hacked out the Wilderness Trail.
John and Betsy B. Freiley became the parents of seven children: Jonathan, Samuel (great-grandfather, born 1822), Christian (died at the age of 12), Betty (her mind was never quite right but lived until early middle age), Nancy (spinster who lived to be 90), Mary (spinster; died at age 60), Rebecca (spinster also and lived for 97 Years. I remember Aunt Becky. She was a darling, a tiny shriveled lady— millions of wrinkles in her small face — but chipper as a little sparrow and given to bad spells of nose-bleed. I was very young, but I remember her visiting us and how sweet she was to Pearl and me.
Samuel (great-grandfather) became a teacher and Jonathan a farmer. The two boys moved to Meigs County, Tennessee, in their youth.
After the death of Christian, great-great-Grandfather John and his wife Betsy were never happy in Kentucky; so when the two boys moved to Tennessee, they soon followed with the rest of their children — their belongings loaded into wagons. Betsy was slender and dark-eyed, old beyond her years from child-bearing and chores. John Freiley was a big man with light blue eyes, straight brown hair and curling moustaches. These two must have been pioneers at heart for they left a prosperous farming community to start over in Tennessee.
Samuel Freiley (great-grandfather, born 1822) married Miss Carolyn Fergerson and they had seven children: John Calvin (grand-father) born 1847. William (who burst his head coughing with the whooping cough at age four). He never was well,but lived to be 30. Jimmy, who served as a Captain in the Confederate Army during the Civil war, Emma (Fouse) mother of Cora Campbell. Mrs. Campbell is now a resident of Dayton, Tenn. Elizabeth (Mrs. John Stanley) Dayton, Tenn. Her children are John, Stanton, Mary and Susan (lost contact with them) but they did live in Old Washington above Dayton.
Amanda (Grimsley) Graysville, Tenn. Amanda has one son still living in Graysville, Ernest Grimsley, proprietor of a grocery store for many years. He is about my mother’s age I imagine. He is first cousin to Mama and Aunt Mamie. Jennie (Mrs. Byrd Thomas) Salecreek, Tenn. Cora Card’s mother. There are still Thomases and Cards living in Salecreek. I imagine they are cousins.
At the death of Carolyn, Samuel, then teaching school in Dayton, married Molly Gothard (also a teacher). Their children are: Eugene Freiley (now living in Brookwood, Ala.), Louella Freiley (married and living in Tuscaloosa, Ala.), Bobby (died in infancy). Remember, these children are half-sisters and brothers of Grandfather Freiley.
Jonathan Freiley (great-great-uncle) wed Miss Sarah Vernon, and they became the parents of three children: William Freiley (schoolteacher). He taught in Sequatchie Valley and was Principal of Dunlap High for years until his death 18 years ago (1937). Two daughters also: Elizaboth (Ridley (deceased)), Alma (Hutchinson) (Howard), now residing in Sparta, Tenn. Cousin Alma is about Mama’s age.
Will Freiley married Miss Mary Loutella Farmer of Pikeville, Tenn. Their children are: Lothair (deceased); Lora (Heard), Dunlap, Tenn. Her children still live there. Mrs. Heard’s children are 3rd cousins to Mama and Aunt Mamie. Leslie Freiley (now living in Corpus Christi, Texas).
We are now ready for the Freiley and Elsea Families to merge; so let’s get on with the Elsea side of the family.
John Elsea (Irishman) and Jane Cox were married in Salecreek, Tennessee in the year of 1850. John was a jolly fat red-headed giant of a man, but was high tempered; however, he was also very tender-hearted -especially toward children. Great-grandmother Jane (Cox) Elsea was a dainty small girl who took life seriously, and cared for her husband and children accordingly. Their children were: Merry Jane (grandmother) born in 1855. Nancy, Elizabeth, Sarah, Calvin, Penk, Bill, John Jr., Thomas. Note similarity of names with the Freileys.
I do not know the whereabouts of all the Elsea family, but Calvin’s grand-children live in Salecreek now. One, Mrs. Leonard Cadd (Lola Elsea) lives on the Mtn. above Dayton. Claude is married to my sister Daisy Louise and they have one child, Sherry Ann. Bill Elsea, an uncle of Claude’s and cousin of ours, has a barber shop in East Brainerd.
At the death of great-grandmother Jane Cox Elsea, great-grandfather John remarried. His second wife was named Ruth. Mama does not remember her last name. She was a poor housekeeper and did not know how to care for her husband or step-children.
Mary Jane (grandmother) born 1855, was beautiful. She had curly mahogany-red hair, fair skin, large blue eyes, a lovely figure and a smiling cheerful disposition. It was no wonder that Calvin Freiley (grandfather), blond young woodsman from Dayton, fell in love with her. John Calvin and Mary Jane married and began house-keeping in a one-room log house in Salecreek. This was in the year of 1874. The first child born of this union was Mamie Freiley, 1875, later to become Mrs. Joe Acuff. In 1877 another daughter was born, Della May (Mrs. Jay Finch Wilson), my mother. Next, Thomas Freiley was born in 1879. His whereabouts are unknown, but the last time he was heard of, 56 years ago, he was employed by the N. C. & St. L. Ry. In 1881 Mary Jane gave birth to her last child, Elizabeth, (Mrs. Sam Caldwell). Four days after Elizabeth’s birth, Mary Jane died of child-bed fever; and so ended the happy marriage of Calvin Freiley with the death of his beloved Mary Jane at the age of 27. He layed her to rest in Coulterville, a small farming community near Graysville, Tenn. We have visited her grave and Grandfather Freiley’s.
Mary Jane and Calvin spent all of their eight years of married life in the one-room log house in Salecreek, but after her death it was impossible for him to stay there with no one to care for the small children; so Calvin moved with his children to Mary Jane’s father’s house near-by. Ruth Elsea (great step-grandmother) was young and insisted that the children not call her grandmother, but Aunt Ruth. She took little care of the children except to feed them. The tiny baby, Elizabeth, was starving and ill and cried constantly. Ruth fed her cows milk from a bottle with a piece of cane for a nipple (the center punched out and a rag tied over it). Such a sloppy job was done in washing it that there was always an odor of sour milk about. (After 74 years, my mother still remembers the odor.) The older children, Mamie 7, Della 5, Tom 3, also fared poorly. They were seldom washed and never combed and soon their hair was matted. Great grandfather Elsea cut all their hair off.
Calvin Freiley changed too, from a healthy happy man to a half-starved, worried, exhausted and desperate father. He sat at the big kitchen table night after night with his tiny daughter wailing on his lap. The only rest he got was when he put his head on the table and slept the sleep of exhaustion in spite of the crying infant. He worked as a miner in Salecreek during the day and some mornings he was obliged to rest twice before he could reach the top of the hill above the house. After a year of this, he could no longer endure the sight of his unkempt children, nor his own hard lot; so he sought aid from his sisters. Mamie and Tom went to live with Aunt Jennie Thomas in Salecreek. Della, he took to Aunt Amanda Grimsley in Graysville, Tenn. All of the children were scrubbed and fed and tended daily then. Mamie and Della were sent to school. Della attended Lone Mountain School in Graysville, where her first teacher was Miss Kitty Brown, and her second grade teacher was Mr. John R. Abel. She went to Sunday school at the Lone Mtn. Baptist church and Mr. Tolbert Barger was her Sunday-school teacher.
Grandfather Calvin made arrangements for his one year old baby to be cared for by his father Samuel and wife Molly, but John Elsea (great-grandfather) refused to let him take the baby, and for fear lest he would, refused to let him enter the house. (Mama says nobody could get along with Great-grandfather Elsea for long.) The old fellow was contrary and stubborn as a mule.
After Grandfather Freiley left the Elsea establishment, he was not kept awake and his health improved, but he was constantly worried about his ailing child, and he continued to try to get her away from his father-in-law. Finally, the old man consented to give Elizabeth up if Della, his favorite, were brought for one last visit. This was arranged on a Sunday afternoon; and when Calvin Freiley left Great-grandfather Elsea’s, he carried Elizabeth, then two years old and weighing 18 lbs., in his arms while Della walked beside him. They stopped on the Mill bridge just above the house and took one last look. The old man stood on the porch and cryed [sic] as he watched them go. That was the last time the children ever saw their grandfather Elsea.
When Mamie was 10, Della 8, Tom 6 and Lizzy 3, their father made arrangements to take all of them to his grandfather’s house, John Freiley and Betsy B.) to live at Ogden, Tenn., for that is where Great-grandfather John — two great’s — had finally moved. He had built his log cabin with six-foot fireplace with his own hands and cleared several acres and planted them. Grandfather had been earning his and his children’s living mining coal in the Salecreek mines for several years at that time. He suffered several injuries to his legs when the slate fell on him in the mine. Many days he spent laying on his back and digging coal over his head with a pick and just barely room to crawl into the pit where he worked. Finally, a large piece of slate fell on him, pinning him down. He was dragged from the pit and carried from the mine. He suffered such a crushing injury to his back that he never again was able to dig coal. Compensation insurance was unheard of then.
Grandfather was an invalid at his grandfather’s home at Ogden for many long months. He was tended lovingly by his Aunts, Becky, Nan and Mary. His children were all there. They attended Ogden Grammar school and Ogden Baptist church. Eventually Grandfather’s health improved, and he made arrangements with his Uncle Jonathan, his father’s brother, to rent a large room in his home and to make a crop on the older man’s land in Sequatchle Valley. This he did, taking Mamie, then 12, Della 10, and Tom 8 with him to Sequatchie Valley where his Uncle Jonathan lived. Mamie and Della kept house, and Grandfather and Tom farmed. All of them lived in the one room. There they attended the Church of Christ with the Freiley cousins. The children went to Mt. Vernon Grammar School near Pikesville [sic]. Elizabeth remained with her great-aunts Nan and Becky at Ogden. Great-great grandfather John and wife Betsy were gone then and Aunt Mary also — Mama doesn’t remember just when they died. Elizabeth and the two old-maids were alone on the Mtn. farm.
During the time Grandfather Calvin and his three older children were farming great-great Uncle Jonathan’s farm in the valley, he made three crops. Mamie was then 15 and beginning to look like her mother. Della also had reddish hair, but it was dark. Tom, too, had his mother’s coloring, but beautiful curly blond hair.
Cousin Will Freiley owned the farm next to Great-great Uncle Jonathan’s (his father) and was obliged to leave every Monday morning to teach school in a small pace called Melvin, Tenn. up the valley above Pikeville. He was not able to commute; so he didn’t return until Friday evening. It was arranged for Della to go to his house and spend every week with his family and return home only on week-ends. His wife was afraid to be alone at night with their babies. Eventually he tired of the arrangement and moved his family to Pikesville [sic]. Then Grandfather rented his farm and made several crops there. He was so ill by this time that he had to hire help. The next farm above Will Freiley’s belonged to Billy Acuff. He had a house full of children. That is how the Freiley’s and Acuff’s became acquainted. In the year of 1894, Mamie Freiley and Joseph Acuff were married. The wedding took place in the log home of Cousin Will Freiley in Sequatchie Valley one Sunday afternoon. That is where Grandfather and Mamie, Della and Tom were then living. Mamie was 19.
Grandfather’s old injuries were so painful he could no longer farm, so he went with his two children, Della and Tom, to the Mtn. farm of his aunts (Becky & Nan). Elizabeth was still with them. At that time Della was 18, Tom 16 and Lizzy 13. At the age of 20, Della married Jay Finch Wilson, son of Dr. John Finch Wilson, Dentist, of Dayton, Tennessee. That was July 18, 1897. In October of that same year Calvin Freiley died, at the age of 50, and was buried beside his wife, Mary Jane, in Coulterville cemetery.
Mamie and Joe Acuff began house-keeping on a farm (Acuff farm) adjoining Cousin Will Freiley’s farm in Sequatchie Valley. They lived there for a year or so. Their first child, William Brown, was born there on Jan. 6, 1897. He lived only 4 mos. They moved to the Mountain a short time later.
Della and Jay Finch began house-keeping on a farm adjoining the Freiley farm on the Mountain. It was the old Fairbanks place and they lived there when their first child Lula May was born on May 7, 1898. Roy Franklin was born Jan. 25, 1900, there, too. When May was two years old and Roy 5 mos. May died of summer complaint and an overdose of vermifuge which a traveling doctor gave her. Three days later Roy died. Thus both were buried within the week.
On May 7, 1901, Ruby Carl was born, but it seemed that she would not live for, at three weeks, she began to have convulsions. She was taken to Graysville, Tenn., to the Seventh Day Adventist hospital and was treated with hot baths, massage, and finally put in a brace to straighten her back. She recovered, but was always crippled until her death last Nov. 3, 1955, in an automobile accident.
Aug. 9, 1904, Lauretta Lillian was born, followed by Mary Rosalie Sept. 11, 1906. After Rosalie’s birth, the Wilson’s left the Mtn. and went to Oklahoma in a covered wagon; but stayed there only a few months. Homesickness took them back to Tenn., and they lived in Graysville for awhile. Aug. 13, 1909, John Emmett was born there. Shortly thereafter they moved back to the Mtn. Daisy Louise was born on July 31, 1911. Pearl was the next child, born Nov. 1, 1914; Susie Ruth, born Mar. 12, 1917; and the last child, Chelton Finch, arrived Oct. 21, 1920.
When Della and Jay Finch married, Elizabeth and Tom were still living with their great-aunts and Father. As I said before, Grandfather died in October of the year Mama married. That left Elizabeth, Aunts Becky and Nan alone & Tom. When Elizabeth was 18, she married Samuel Caldwell. Tom went to work for the railroad and was never heard of again. Great Aunts, Becky & Nan, lived alone for awhile. At the death of Aunt Nan, in her 90th year, Aunt Becky went to live with Cousin Alma Hutchinson (remember, Jonathan’s daughter & Will’s sister) in Sparta, Tenn., where she finished out her life; with an occasional visit to the Mtn. to see Della.
After Aunt Mamie and Uncle Joe Acuff moved to the Mtn., they had two more children. Nada Jane Acuff, born May 25,1897, and Lilburn Loy, born April 29, 1901, and then they moved to Texas in a covered wagon. They bought land in Big Spring, Texas. There Grady was born May 26, 1907, and last Joseph Eugene. Mama can’t remember his birth date. All of the Joseph Acuff family still live in Texas. Aunt Mamie and Loy in Big Spring, Grady in Lamesa, and Eugene in Dallas. Except Nada — she resides in Jal, N. Mexico.
Elizabeth and Sam Caldwell also lived on the Mtn. Their children: Eva Sophia (deceased) left several children: Ceburn, Arlene, Wilma, Muncie Jr., Margaret, Hobart, and two others. Ellen (deceased). Delashmitt’s
In addition to Eva, Aunt Lizzie became the mother of Zealous Caldwell, now living in Michigan [Dayton, Ohio, struck through]. Don Carlos (named for a Church of Christ Evangelist from Mexico whom she admired very much.) Carlos died about l0 years ago of tuberculosis and diabetes. Coy (died at age of 4). Otis, born 1916, now living in Michigan near Zealous. Otis was my playmate. He looked just like the picture of Uncle Tom then. His lovely blond hair curled all over his head and his eyes were china blue. (Remember these boys are Caldwell’s.) Eva married Muncie Delashmitt and her children (some of them) live here in Red Bank.
Eva’s and Muncie’s farm was sold and now a new sub-division is there. One street is called Delashmitt Road. Eva looked a little like Nada. She was a wonderful person — and never met a stranger.
Aunt Lizzie died at the age of 38 in Newell’s Hospital in 1919. She lost her last child and hemorrhaged to death. She also had t.b.
This is all except for some stories I have heard told which I shall attempt to tell and also I shall try to list the names and whereabouts of my mother’s descendants — Aunt Mamie’s and Aunt Lizzie’s.
[Handwritten: Christian Freiley was John’s father but I have no birth data for him. His mother was called Ma.]
John Freiley, my great-great grandfather, was born in 1796. He lived in Allen County, Kentucky as a child. His father was Christian Freiley. He had a brother called Daniel. He said he was of French descent. The name, originally spelled Freley, was changed when the first Freileys went through customs in New York.
In 1816, at age 21, John married a 17-year-old girl, Mary Elizabeth Billingsley (called Betsy). Her father, an Englishman, was Jonathan Billingsley, a mercantile dealer.
The weather in Kentucky was strange in 1816; there was ice in July. Only cold-weather crops matured. That made for a lean year when John & Betsy married. They lived in a log cabin on Chigger Hill. John taught the three R’s in a little log schoolhouse.
Born of John & Betsy’s union were: Samuel Eugene B. (my great-grandfather) in 1818; Elizabeth (called Betty) was born in 1820; Christian in 1822 (named for his grandfather Freiley), died at age 12; Jonathan was born in 1824; Rebecca in 1825; Nancy in 1827; and Mary in 1829.
Samuel Freiley began teaching upon graduating from the Kentucky Academy. His grandmother, Mary Freiley, had moved to Cumberland County, Tennessee, to make her home with a son after his grandfather’s death. He went to visit her. He began teaching in Bledsoe County, Tenn., near Pikeville soon afterward. That was about 1838.
Samuel married Nancy Caroline Fergerson, but not before his parents and siblings decided to move to Tenn.
The John Freiley family arrived in Bledsoe County in a covered wagon, Jonathan on horseback, and the cow led behind. They had camped out and made the long trip. They had visited relatives in Cumberland and Bledsoe on the way.
Samuel Eugene B. and Caroline moved to Meigs County, Tennessee, where Samuel taught for several years. Five of their children were born there; then they moved to Ringgold, Ga., where Samuel opened up a grocery store. William was born in Georgia.
James, their first child, was born in 1841. He served in the Confederate army during the Civil War, from 1865 until October of 1866. He said he was so hungry that he scooped up corn from the ground where the Yankees fed their horses, parched and ate it.
Mary Elizabeth was Samuel’s second child, born in 1843. Amanda M. in 1844, John Calvin (my grandfather, Aunt Mamie/Idella’s father) in 1847, Tersa Emmaline in 1846, and they moved to Georgia in 1849. William, born in Ringgold, burst his head coughing when he was four years old. He never was well, but lived to be 30. He had whooping cough.
In 1852, Samuel Eugene moved his family to Dayton, Tenn., where he served as a school principal.
Emma Freiley (Fouse) was the mother of Cora Fouse Campbell of Dayton, Tenn. Her husband was an attorney. Mary Elizabeth (Mrs. John Stanley) had four children: John, Stanton, Mary and Susan. Dayton, Tenn.
Amanda (Mrs. William Grimsley) lived in Graysville, Tennessee. They had a mercantile store. Will was a Baptist minister, pastor of the Coulterville Baptist Church.
They had one son, Ernest Grimsley. Ernest was a grocer after his father’s death.
Jennifer(called Jenny) was the seventh and last of Samuel & Caroline’s children. She was born in Dayton, Tn. The Rhea County courthouse burned and I have been unable to find a record of her birth, but my mother (Idella May Freiley) told me about her. She married Bird Thomas and they lived in Soddy. Great-grandmother, Caroline, died and is buried in Dayton, Tennessee.
Great-grandfather Samuel married Molly Gothard, a teacher. Their first child was Larkin Eugene (moved to Brookwood, Alabama). Louella was next. She married a Randolph and lived in Alabama. Bobby was their third and last child. He died in infancy.
I presume Samuel died in Dayton, Tenn.
To return to John Freiley in Bledsoe County, Dunlap township. Sequatchie County was not organized until 1857. Then it was made of portions of Bledsoe and Hamilton counties; before that time, all Freiley records can be found in Bledsoe censuses. John taught school and gathered herbs. They lived in the foothills of the mountain.
Jonathan bought a 100-acre farm and married Sarah Vernon of Pikeville (1853). Their son, William, was born in 1854. Elizabeth (Ridley) was the second, and Alma (Hutchinson) was the last. Will taught school. Alma lived in Sparta. She remarried at age 76 when her husband died. She is buried in Sparta (Alma Hutchinson Howard), at 85.
Will Freiley taught for many years in Sequatchie. All of the Freileys attended the Dunlap Christian church.
Will Freiley married Mary Loutella Farmer of Pikeville. They had three children: Lester, Leslie and Lora. Lora Heard, Will’s granddaughter, still lives in Dunlap and is
[Handwritten: She was still living in June of 1996 — quite old now a member of the Dunlap, Tenn., Church of Christ. You may reach her through the church.]
a member of the Dunlap Church of Christ where Will was an Elder. Leslie, a minister, married and moved to Texas where he died. None of the sons [“three” struck through] are now living.
Will Freiley served as Supt. of schools in Sequatchie County, and for years as Principal of Dunlap High School. He signed my mother’s teacher’s certificate. He visited us each summer in Chattanooga, Tenn., with his son, Lester. He died in his 80’s in Dunlap.
Great-great-grandmother, Betsy Billingsley, taught spinning, weaving and knitting. Her daughters helped her.
After Jonathan married, his mother died in her 50’s in Sequatchie Valley. Great-great-grandfather, John, remarried a woman two years his junior, Henrietta.
Samuel Eugene wrote his father that there was homestead land to be had on the Dayton Mtn. near Pikeville. Great-great-grandfather signed up for a section, loaded up his covered wagon and proceeded up the mtn. to claim their land. They loosed the cow and horses to graze when they had located their land, then tramped over it to see what it had to offer.
Some of the mountain people drove over to welcome the Freileys. One of the settlers was named Snow. He had a large family and a large farm. Sadie and Ella Snow became friends with the Freiley girls, and they all sang in the choir at the little Ogden Baptist church.
A deep creek flowed on two sides of the Freiley farm. They set up camp and began clearing land.
John Freiley’s sons, Jonathan and Samuel, and his grandsons cut logs and erected a double log cabin above the creek, also a log barn. (I was born in that log cabin.)
The mountain people decided to build a new churchhouse. They gathered, cut logs from a selected site, and erected it.
The congregation of the Ogden Baptist Church met for a picnic before the new building in the clearing. They gave thanks, for each other, the building, and all their blessings, as well as the new building. The road was moved to the present site.
Years later, Mama (Idella May Freiley attended school in that churchhouse and was married there. Squire Mosely officiated at her wedding. We also attended church there, and I was converted in that log building.
After Great-great-grandfather proved up on his land, he sold all of it except ten acres above the creek to the Melendie family.
During the years, John Freiley planted grape vines, walnut trees, cherries, and an herb garden. He planted a Shockley apple tree beside the kitchen door.
None of the Freiley girls married, Nancy, Rebecca, Betty, nor Mary.
Mama, born in 1877, remembered that her great-grandfather had straight brown hair and curling moustaches. He smoked a pipe, and his eyes twinkled. He told everyone that he had married the prettiest girl in the world when he was 21.
The Freiley women wore mob caps. Nancy smoked a clay pipe. They raised sheep, sheared them, spun the wool, and knitted clothing. All worked hard and made a living.
Betty died in middle age, Mary at 63, Nancy at 90. Great-great-grandfather’s second wife died before he did. He died in 1892, at 94. All were buried in the Freiley Cemetery, located on the homesteaded land near Ogden.
Great-great-aunt Rebecca was the last of the family. She made her home with her niece, Alma Freiley (Hutchinson) in Sparta. She died at 99 years and 9 months in Sparta.
John Hudson [handwritten “deceased 1995”], present owner [handwritten “is now Leroy Hudson”] of the Freiley homesteaded land, began piling up tombstones from the cemetery when he purchased the Freiley place from the Garmons. Garmons bought it from Hutchins, who purchased it from the Melendies. Melendies bought it from John Freiley.
The last time I visited the mountain, the former Freiley cemetery was planted in tomatoes.
My grandfather, John Calvin Freiley, married Mary Jane Elsea of Salecreek. He was a lumberjack, 26 years old; she was 19.
John Calvin had brown hair and blue eyes. Mary Jane had curly red hair and blue eyes.
The newlyweds began housekeeping in a one-room log house in Salecreek. Mama remembered, though she was but four-years-old when Grandma died, that there was a rock wall between the creek and the house. She said she threw a small anil box (her toy) into the creek and cried as it floated away. Her mother retrieved it with a stick. As her mother turned, Mama remembered that she wore a small pink breakfast shawl about her shoulders and the sun glinted on her red hair.
Calvin and Mary Jane had four children: Mamie, born in 1875 (Mrs. Joseph Acuff); Idella May, born Feb. 17, 1877 (Mrs. Jay F. Wilson, my mother); Thomas Eugene 1879. The last Mama heard of Tom, he spent the night in Brookwood, Alabama, with relatives on his way to Mississippi. He was 19. Mary Elizabeth was born in 1881 (Mrs. Samuel Caldwell).
Mary Jane died of child-bed fever when Lizzie was three-days-old. She was 27. Calvin buried her in the Coulterville, Tenn. cemetery.
Left with four small children, John Calvin was desperate. His father-in-law, John Elsea, offered him a home and child-care. He accepted.
Great-grandpa John Elsea’s wife had died. He was remarried to a young woman named Ruth. Ruth was unable to cope with the housekeeping and the added care of the children, one an infant. They fared poorly.
At the end of one year, Grandfather Calvin arranged for Mamie and Tom to live with his sister, Jennie Thomas, in Salecreek.
Della, he took to his sister Amanda Grimsley, in Graysville, Tenn.
John Elsea refused to allow Calvin to take the baby, but he visited her every week.
Mama has told me about the Lone Oak Baptist Church they attended in Coulterville. Uncle Bill Grimsley was the pastor. Her first Sunday-school teacher was Tolbert Barger. She started school; her first-grade teacher was Miss Kitty Brown, and second John R. Abel.
Grandfather John Calvin continued to visit Elizabeth each week. John Elsea finally agreed to give her up if Della (his favorite) was brought for a visit.
On a Sunday afternoon, Mama remembered going with her father to the Elsea’s house. When they left, John C. carried Elizabeth, two-years-old, weighing 18 lbs. Mama walked by his side. She said her grandfather cried. They never saw him again.
John Calvin took Elizabeth to his father, Samuel B., and wife, Molly, in Dayton, Tennessee. She stayed with them for two years. Calvin worked in the coal mines.
Slate fell on Calvin in the mines, broke his leg and injured his back. He was unable to work in the mines.
Calvin’s grandparents, the John Freileys, offered him and the children a home with them on the Dayton mtn. He farmed. The children went to the Ogden Elementary School (held in the log churchhouse).
Calvin arranged with his Uncle Jonathan, in Sequatchie Valley, to tend a portion of his farm. He, Mamie 11, Delia 9, and Tom 7, lived in one room at his Uncle’s house. He made two crops there.
Elizabeth stayed with her great-great aunts, Nan & Rebecca, on the mountain.
Will Freiley, Jonathan’s son, lived on a 75-acre farm nearby. He taught at Palmer, Tenn. He rode his horse to Palmer on Sunday afternoons and was there until Friday when he returned home for the weekend.
Will’s wife, Loutella, was afraid to be alone all week, so Della stayed with her, going home only on weekends.
All of the Freileys attended the Christian Church in Dunlap. Will tired of the arrangement and moved his family to Pikeville. Grandfather Calvin rented Will’s farm. He made seven crops there.
The Acuff family lived on a 250-acre farm next to the Will Freiley place. They had a big family. The oldest son, Joseph, began courting Mamie. When he was 39, and she 20, they were married in the Freiley parlor. Mamie and Della decorated the room with wild flowers.
Grandfather Calvin made one crop after Mamie was married. His back was causing excruciating pain, and he could barely climb the steps into the house after a day in the fields.
Calvin’s aunts, Nancy & Rebecca, urged him to bring Della and Tom and live with them and Elizabeth. They moved back to the Dayton mtn. in 1896.
Mamie and Joseph Acuff’s first child was born in Sequatchie Valley on the Acuff farm. They named him William Brown. He lived only four months. An altercation arose between Joseph and his father, Billy Acuff, so Joe took Mamie and moved to the Dayton mtn. There, Nada Jane was born May 25, 1897. Lillburn Loy was born Apr. 29, 1901.
Joseph had pneumonia several times, and the doctor advised him to go west. They traveled to Texas in a covered wagon, and homesteaded land in Lea County, New Mexico [“Big Spring, Texas” struck through].
Two more sons were born to Joseph Acuff and Aunt Mamie: Grady, May 26, 1907, and Joseph Eugene.
Later, the Acuffs homesteaded land in Jal, N. Mexico. Aunt Mamie told me they hauled water for 100 miles and lived in a sod house. After proving up on the N.M. land, they returned to Big Spring, Texas. Joe died.
Nada married Doyle Buffington. They lived in Jal, N.M. Doyle died there. They had one son, Gordon (a teacher in Jal [“White Sands” struck through] N.M.), and two daughters, Nada Ruth and Delma. Nada is 88 this year of 1985 and lives in a nursing home in New Mexico.
In Big Spring, oil was found on the Acuff farm [“homestead” struck through]. Numerous oil wells are there now. The Acuff’s hard times are over.
Loy married Helen. They had no children. Helen died last December, 1984, at age 79. Loy [handwritten: “deceased in 1995”] lives alone in Big Spring.
Grady married Edna May [handwritten: “deceased of Alzh.”], lives in Lamesa , Texas. He owns numerous cotton gins over Texas. He is an Elder in the Church of Christ at Lamesa. They have several children and grandchildren.
Joseph Eugene Acuff married Hazel; they adopted a son, Joe, Jr. They lived in Dallas, but when Eugene died of lung cancer, Hazel and Joe returned to Odessa, Texas. Hazel has remarried Ted Phillips, and Joe has his own family.
Aunt Mamie Freiley (Acuff, Morgan) died of a stroke in her 89th year in Big Spring, Texas, where she lived in a nursing home.
My mother, Idella May Freiley, married Jay Finch Wilson in July of 1897.
Grandfather, John Calvin Freiley, died in October of 1897. He was 50-years-old. He was buried beside his wife, Mary Jane, in the old Coulterville Cemetery.
My parents began housekeeping on a farm on the Mtn. adjoining the Freiley place.
Elizabeth Freiley, when 16, married Samuel Caldwell. Aunt Becky objected because she was so young. Her first child was called Eva Sophia, and she had four more: Zeelis, Carlos, Coy, and Otis. Coy died at age 4. At age 42, Aunt Lizzie suffered a miscarriage and died in Newell’s Hospital in Chattanooga. She is buried in the Mile Straight Cemetery on Hiway 27,N.
Eva married Muncie Delashmitt; they had ten children. Their youngest, Ellen, died of bone cancer at age 9. A daughter, Wilma Delashmitt (Campbell) lives in Hixson, Tn. [handwritten: “Deceased 1992”]
Zeelis moved to Michigan. He lived to 75. Carlos died in Atlanta, Ga., of TB and diabetes [handwritten: “at 63”]. Otis is still living in Michigan. Eva died at age 52 of a heart attack.
My parents, Della and Jay Wilson, had ten children. Lula May was born May 7, 1898; Roy Franklin Jan. 25, 1900. Both died of summer complaint and vermifuge given them by an herb doctor when they were 2-1/2 & 7 mos. They were buried in the Ogden, Tenn., Cemetery three days apart.
On May 7, 1901, Ruby Carol was born. She weighed three lbs. at birth and began having convulsions at three weeks. At the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Graysville, Tenn., she was treated with hot packs and emulsified cod-liver oil. She recovered, but she was always crippled.
Ruby married Clark Samuel Hartline; they had one son, C. S., Jr. Sam is [handwritten: “was”] a minister in the Church of Christ in Augusta, Ga. [handwritten: for 8 yrs.]. He and his wife, Charlotte, have three children: Clayton is a minister, married with two children. Denise is married and mother of two. Julie is a student in college in Atlanta [handwritten: “now teaches Latin in Atlanta 1992]. Sam and Charlotte are divorced, and he has remarried. He pastors a Church in Ga.
Ruby Wilson (Hartline) died in an automobile accident in 1956. She is buried in Hamilton Memorial Gardens at Hixson, Tenn. Her husband died later and is buried beside her.
Lauretta Lillian born Aug. 9, 1904, married John B. Brown, Jr. Their daughter, Bobby Lou [“Wigington” struck through; handwritten: “(now Blackshear) Bobby and Chuck divorced. She is now Bobby Blackship.”] is a teacher at Falling Water Elementary School. She has three children: Charles, music instructor at a high school in Oklahoma, Laura Ann (Salmons), accountant at the Power Board in Chatta., and Victoria, a student.
Laura’s husband, John, died of a massive stroke. She lives in their home on Read’s Lake Road in Red Bank, Tenn. Bobby Lou lives one block away. [Handwritten: “Laura deceased since 1993.”]
Mary Rosalie, born Sept. 11, 1906, lives in East Ridge, Tenn. [Handwritten: “Presently in St. Barnabas Nursing Home in Chatta.”] She and H. Lee McCulley were married for almost 50 years. He died Thanksgiving day 1982.
Rose’s daughter, Betty May McCulley (Phillips), an RN, [struck through “lives”; handwritten: “deceased 1995”] with her husband, Maury,in Colliersville, Tn., near Memphis. Their two sons, Barry [handwritten: “is now married”] and Bradley, are still at home. Barry works at Holiday Inn as a computer operator, and Bradley is still in college. [Handwritten: “Bradley is married now (1996) and father of 2.”]
John Chelton, Rose’s son, and his first wife had four children: Denise (special education teacher); Cindy Rose, married and mother of a son; and Keith and Berry. [Handwritten: “Both married with families.] John is remarried to Laura, [handwritten: “an accountant.”]
John Emmett, born Aug. 13, 1909, my parents 6th child, married Cora Jane Sullivan. They had no children. He was struck and killed by lightning on the back porch of his home on Signal Mtn. as he washed up for lunch. He was 36. Cora lives in Red Bank, Tenn., now. [Handwritten: “Cora, deceased since June 1996.”]
Daisy Louise, seventh, was born July 31, 1911. She married Claude Samuel Elsea, and they have one daughter, Sherry Ann Elsea (Cowan). Sherry and her husband, Dan, divorced, but they have two children: Danielle and Monty Cowan. They live in Atlanta, Ga. Daisy Lou lives in 90 Red Bank, Tenn. [Handwritten: “Sherry is now Mrs. John Henderson (1996).”]
Claude died of a massive coronary at age 59.
Pearl Frances, born Nov. 1, 1914, (Mrs. Max Erich Nagel) has three sons: Max, Conrad, and Norman. All are engineers and live in Florida; Max and Conrad on Merrit Island.
Max fathered two children by his first wife: Jimmy & Charlene; both live in Florida and are married.
Conrad is the father of five. His two oldest daughters are married. His son, Jerry, lives with him and his second wife, Judy, and two little girls. Conrad is a space engineer at Cape Canaveral. [Handwritten: “Jerry is married, father of two. He and his family live in Atlanta, Ga.”]
Norman Nagel (Pearl’s third son) lives with his 2nd wife in Florida. He and his first wife had three children: Alan, their son, died in 1984 of carbon monoxide poison while working on his car in an enclosed garage. Their two daughters live with their mother, Peggy, in F1orida . [Handwritten: “Both are married now (1996) no longer live with Peggy.”]
Erich Nagel died of a massive heart attack in April of 1985. Pearl 1ives in White Oak, Tn., but [struck through “will”] move [handwritten: “d”] to Florida in November. [Handwritten: “On Merritt Island, Fla. now (1996)”]
Suzanna Ruth was born March 12, 1916, and married Earl Hull Ziegler, an accountant. Their sons: Earl, Jr., born Jan. 11, 1936; David Alan, June 4, 1946; Thomas Freiley, Nov. 30, 1947; and Joseph Dennis, Jan. 20, 1953, are all engineers, though, Alan does not pursue that.
David Alan, a Major in the Air Force, served through two tours of duty in Vietnam. He is stationed at March AFB in Riverside, Calif. He has never married, and I wish he would. [Handwritten: “Alan, now a Lt. Col. is married to Sherry Logan, who teaches computer science.”]
Earl, Jr., married Marilyn Chamberlain. James Stephen, their son, is married to Robin Brandon [handwritten: “divorced”], an RN. They have a baby, Katherine Ann, aged one year. [Handwritten: “They are now divorced, have two daughters, Katie 12, Caroline, age 8 – 1996”]
Debra Sue, their daughter, is [handwritten: “was”] a student at UTC in Chatta., Tn. She and her parents live in East Ridge, TN. Steve and Robin live there too. [Handwritten: “Debra married and mother of Kelsey 3, and Garrett, 2. She is Mrs. Tom McGhee now.”]
Thomas Freiley, our third son, is [handwritten: “was”] a Nuclear Engineer with TVA at Brown’s Ferry in Athens Ala. He, his wife, Elaine, and her daughter, Nancy, live in Decatur, Alabama.
[Handwritten: “Tom took an early retirement from TVA and he nas 1/3 interest in an engineering firm in Decatur (1996).”]
Joseph Dennis, our last son, is [handwritten: “was”] a Nuclear Engineer with TVA in Chatta., Tenn. His wife is [handwritten: “was”] an engineer at Sequoia Nuclear Plant in Soddy. They live with their son, Avery, in Hixson, Tenn. They are expecting another child in November, 1985. He is married to the former Cindy Jo Abercrombie. [Handwritten: “They left TVA and lived 7 yrs. in Aiken, SC, where Joe headed NUS Corp. Cindy Joe was with Combustion Engineering in Aiken. They are now transferring to Las Vegas, Nev. Avery is in college; Zachary is 11 yrs old.”]
Chelton Finch Wilson, no. 10 for Della and Jay F. Wilson, was born Oct. 21, 1920. He and his wife, Betty (Pringle) Wilson, live in Mobile, Alabama. He is retired as a Quality Control Engineer (for the government).
Their first son, Emmett Hugh (called Buddy), lives with his wife, Denese, and their son, Daniel, aged one. Buddy is a large equipment salesman in Mobile, Ala. [Handwritten: “They also have Ashley, Amanda. Denese teaches. 1996”]
David Chelton, a banker, lives with his wife, an RN, in Montgomery, Alabama. They have a son several months old, Andrew David. [Handwritten: “Now they are in Fla. Have a daughter Leah. Andy is 12 and Leah 6.”]
Chelton served in India in the Second World War as an airplane mechanic. He retired early because of a heart condition. His health has improved.
My mother, Idella May Freiley (Wilson), died at the age of 90 on Feb. 18, 1967. She is buried in Hixson, Tenn. She had a malignancy of the lower colon.
Memories of the Freileys:My aunt, Mamie Freiley Acuff, told me that her great-aunts, Nancy and Rebecca, filled a keg with muskedines [sic] and poured molasses over them. She said they were good in the cold wintertime. They cooked in a big fireplace. They baked in an iron oven by pulling hot coals out on the hearth and putting the oven in them. A pothook was in the fireplace to hang their bean pot, which was used for all kinds of stews as well as beans. They filled the cellar, located and reached by lifting a trap door before the big fireplace, with potatoes, turnips, pumpkins, and apples for the winter.
On the mantel stood Great-great-grandfather John’s big tobacco jar and pipe, along with Aunt Nancy’s clay pipe. The spinning wheel was at one corner of the long hearth, and one of the women was always busy spinning, carding wool from the sheep they bathed in the creek before shearing them, weaving, or knitting. There was seldom an idle moment.
The log barn was filled with hay, and corn was stored for winter, the cow beneath in her stall. Chickens, ducks and geese were in one end of the barn.
G.G.Grandfather always had a supply of herbs on hand in case someone became ill.
I remember Aunt Becky and Cousin Alma Freiley coming to visit us when I was about 5. Aunt Becky wore a gingham dress with white collar and cuffs, neat as could be. We went to the old log house. She looked around, and I knew she was back with her family in memory for she looked at each nook and cranny of the place, then gazed out over the garden and grape arbors. I knew that she could see, in her mind’s eye, her sisters, brothers and father. [Handwritten: “I was only five, but remember her expression, blue eyes, tiny shrunken form.”]
Census takers didn’t always spell names correctly.
In the Warren County Tennessee census in 1860, I found John Fraley, age 64, and his wife, Henrietta, age 62. Betty was listed as 35, Nancy 33, Mary 30, and Rebecca 26. Jonathan was listed there as 36, and his wife, Sarah Vernon, as 22.
I don’t know where Warren County was located, but it must have been near Pikeville, for Mama remembered that Jonathan said he and Sarah were married in Pikeville.
I can’t account for the age differences on the two census records. Jonathan’s was the same, ten years older.
There is no Warren County in Tenn. now as far as I can find. Perhaps it was absorbed by Sequatchie when it was organized in 1857.
There must have been many mistakes in spelling, and inaccuracy of ages when the census was taken.
Some of the things Mama told me were completely correct, proven so by the records, but some she may have been wrong about. I know when Aunt Becky was born, for I know she was 99 and 9 mos. when she died in 1925.
I have written to all of the Samuel Freileys listed in the book I bought. None have responded. Uncle Tom is still lost and I have found no trace since he spent a night in Brookwood, Alabama, at age 19 on his way to Miss.