Tennessee Mountain Stories

New Kin and Old Paths


I met a new family member recently… Dale Welch was telling me about his great-great Grandparents who lived in the Martha Washington community.  He mentioned the grandmother’s maiden name was Elmore and that got my questions started.  Turns out she was a sister to MY great-great-great Grandmother!  We parted with a ‘good-bye cuz’ and a promise to get together soon to share information.  (I have much to learn from Mr. Welch’s wealth of historical information!)

You know that as soon as I could get settled in front of my computer with a decent internet connection I was probing for information about this branch of the family.  Well I still have work to do on it, but it led me to a census record from 1880 where I found Margaret Elmore Wilson living with her husband Joe in the 4th Civil District of Fentress County, Tennessee. 

1880 Census Wilsons.jpg

One fascinating thing the Census Records show is who was living around your ancestors and I love looking through these records and seeing familiar family names as well as families I’ve never heard of before.  While Bagwell, Nation and Whitehead aren’t families that I grew up around, several family names are still well represented in the Martha Washington community:  Ashburn, Neely, Wilson, and Miller. 

For years I’ve been recording genealogy of not just my ancestors, but also of every family that touched my own family tree.  Now I find this a fascinating endeavor because I have cataloged most families in Martha Washington and Camp Ground, then as members of the families chose spouses from off the mountain, the tree extends even further.  (So much for the jokes people make that mountain family trees have no branches – I’ve got news for them, we’ve got roots they can’t even keep up with!)

Joseph and Margaret Elmore Wilson were the people I started looking for.  Right before them are Berry and Julia Wilson with two children still at home:  Artemia and Laura, and a boarder living with them named Davis Ashburn.

I found a Davis Ashburn in my database who was the son of Robert Wesley and Hettie Smith Ashburn.  His age matches up with this boarder, and his father is living in Cumberland County at that time with five children still at home. 

As you so often hear me mention, this research left me with more questions than I started out with.  Turning the page to entries the census-taker made on June 18, 1880 the Emily Norris family is listed with her 6 children.  She is my paternal grandfather’s great grandmother and their family home was always in Roslin – so seeing her with her children in Clarkrange presents a real mystery.

Even with the new and unanswered questions, this is a fascinating glimpse of the neighborhood nearly 140 years ago.