Family Ties Home   Fred & Leora     Eleanor & Bob   Delores & John   Tony & Patti    Mike & Kim   Bob & Sheila   Elanda & Gregg   John & Mary Lou   Fred & Susan   Tim & Becky   David & Kaye  
Joe & Rachelle   Randy & Julie    Zane & Morgan   Bobby & Ruth   Steven & Celese    Andrew & Joanna   Jacob & Tiffany   Chris & Emily   Matt & Katie   Jeb & Avril    Sinjin & Caroline   Matt & Savvy    Rubin & Sidney    Austin & Alena    Davey & Shanda   Tony & Joanna            Other Family & Friends    Family History    Jeanette     Articles

Articles - Saga of Samuel Seiber by Evelyn Carter Foote   

Poems by Leora Seiber      Lydia Seiber Sayings     Poems by Thelma Eleam      Poems & Things by Delores Baxter     Titanic by Tony Seiber     Thwaites Sermons      Quotable Quotes

The Survivor: The Saga of Samuel Seiber, East Tennessean     by Evelyn Carter Foote

President  Washington   Maryland to Tennessee   Marriage to Isabella   Having Children   The War of 1812   Twin Boys   Starting A School   Jackson for President   Losing Isabel      
A Second  Marriage   Two Deaths    An Unexpected Wedding   Birth of Benjamin   A Preacher and a Moonshiner   The Civil War    A Final Move   Sam's Death               Footnotes                    

From the Author -

Dear Family Members and Other Readers (if any):

    As I have heard stories about my great-grandfather, Samuel Seiber, and have gathered information from various sources about his life and times, he has come alive to me. I do not know what he looked like, nor how his voice sounded, but I am convinced that he was a tough, strong character. Otherwise, he could not have survived the hard circumstances of his life.
    In trying to construct a coherent biography, I have imagined what might have been. These pages might be called "fictional biography." You will need to take it "with a grain of salt," as my mother would have said.
    If anything in my story contradicts the truth as you have heard it, please forgive me, and let me know where I am wrong. I have not willfully distorted any available facts.
    This has been a labor of love, undertaken to help my grandchildren and the other descendants of Samuel Seiber to appreciate him, a man I have come to admire and even to love.

Evelyn Carter Foote
January 16, 1988
Memphis, Tennessee

President Washington
   When I was a little girl in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the 1920's, my grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Seiber, would entertain me for hours with tales about his father, Samuel. While I sat cross-legged on the floor of the front porch beside Grandpa's rocking chair, he would peel an apple and scrape it. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," he would say, offering me a bite off the end of the knife. Then he would take one himself.
   "Grandpa," I would beg, "tell me about the time your daddy saw George Washington."
   "Well now, let's begin a little before that," he would reply, a faraway look in his china-blue eyes.
   "My grandfather was born across the ocean in Germany. When he was a young man, he got on a ship and came to America. It landed in Baltimore, Maryland, so that's where he decided to live. He got married and my father was born, back when this was a young country.
   "One day when my father Sam was still a little boy, his father took him to town. They were walking down the main street when all of a sudden Sam's daddy grabbed him and put him up on his shoulders.
   "'Quick, Sam! Look over there! See that tall man getting out of his carriage? That's George Washington. Now look at him good, for he's a great man. Remember, and someday you can tell your children that you saw the first president of the country."
   In my mind, I could see the excited little boy sitting on his father's shoulders, pointing to the sleek horses and the fine carriage, and the tall white-haired man whose pictures I had seen in books.
   That was only one of Grandpa's family stories. When I grew up, I determined to learn more about the family history and to check up on Grandpa. Not that I doubted his truthfulness, but I wanted written history to verify him.
   From a family Bible record, I learned that Samuel was  born on April 5, 1790. Since Washington lived until 1799, young Sam could certainly have seen him.

 Maryland to Tennessee                                                                                                                                                                                           Top
  Around the turn of the century, the Seiber family moved from Maryland to East Tennessee. They settled in the seventh district of Anderson County, of which Clinton is the county seat. [It was first called Burrville, honoring Aaron Burr. After his conspiracy in 1809, the town's name was changed, to honor DeWitt Clinton.] The county was founded in 1801, with Knox and Grainger being "parent counties." The family Bible record states that they lived on Poplar Creek, "now Frost Bottom."
   If we should travel from Baltimore to Clinton today, we would drive leisurely down through Virginia on the beautiful scenic parkway, stopping overnight at a Holiday Inn. But in pioneer days, the journey would have taken weeks by horseback or Conestoga wagon.
   Many German and Dutch families were willing to tackle the trip from their first homes in the original thirteen states. They would hear tales of the land of promise beyond the Appalachian Mountains, where land was cheap, the valleys fertile, the rivers filled with fish, the woods abundant in game. Although Kentucky and Tennessee had been the hunting grounds of the Cherokee Indians, they were getting relatively safe for white settlers by the 1790's.
   Usually the head of the family would make the initial trip alone, finding a place where he wanted to settle and purchasing land. Then he would return for his family. Loading their possessions on pack animals or into wagons, driving their livestock alongside them, several families might travel in a caravan in early spring, camping out at night. They would follow the Shenandoah Valley through Virginia. They would pick up a portion of Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road, which he had carved out, using old buffalo and Indian Trails. They would cross the mountains at Cumberland Gap, on the Kentucky-Tennessee line.
   When they reached their destination, they would put up a crude lean-to, clear some land, and put in a crop. Then they would fell trees, build a log cabin, and chink it with mud. The stone fireplace would be used for both heating and cooking.
   Let us picture our pioneer ancestors as they set out on their long journey from Maryland to Tennessee. It may have happened somewhat like this:

   Early one morning in March of 1801, ten-year-old Sam felt his mother's hand on his shoulder, shaking him awake.
   "Get up, Son! This is the day we're leaving. Help your little brother get dressed. It'll soon be daybreak."
   The boy jumped up, alert at once. Throwing back the covers, he pulled little Philip by his foot.
   "Outta this bed, Phil!  We're headin' for Tennessee! Yippee!"
   The younger boy rubbed his eyes and yawned. "Do I hafta get up? I'm not through sleepin'!"
   "You don't want to get left, do ya? Put on your clothes."
   Sam had already pulled on his pants, boots, and jacket.
   "Here, Sleepy-head, I'll help you." He crammed a cap on his little brother's head.
   "We're ready now, Maw. Can we get in the wagon now"
   Maw handed them each a cold corn pone. "Here's your breakfast, boys. You can eat on the way. Go on out. Your Paw's already hitched up. We'll meet the other wagons at Five Mile Post."
   As Sam climbed up beside his father, he asked, "Paw, do you think we'll meet any Indians before we get there?"
   "Don't worry, Son. We'll be safe. Quite a few settlers live down through Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. Forget about Indians--leastways, till we cross the mountains."
   "How 'bout bears, Paw?" little Phillip wanted to know.
   "Well, when I went over there last fall and bought our land, I didn't see a single one. But once we get to Poplar Creek, there may be some back up on the mountain. I hope so; I'd like to kill one or two, 'cause bear meat is mighty good."
   Leading little John, the youngest, Maw was last to climb into the wagon. She had the family Bible under her arm.
   "Before we leave, let me read something to you," she said. "' The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...He leadeth me beside the still waters...I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.' Now there's nothin' to be afraid of, boys. God is going to be with us, always."
   I'm not afraid to go to Tennessee or anywhere else," Sam declared. "We've got God--and Paw, too. Our Paw is the strongest, best Paw in the whole world."
   "Thank you, Son. You and Phil and John are goin' to make good Tennesseans. Giddap!"  he called to the horses.
   The Seiber family was on the way to their new home across the Appalachians.

       Marriage to Isabella                                                                                                                                                                                   Top
  What adventures the family experienced on the way we can only imagine. The first fact we have record of, after their arrival in Anderson County, is that Samuel married Isabel Frost, presumably around 1809, for their first child was born in 1810. The Frost family had come to the area from Lee County, Virginia, and built a house in 1796.1
   How did the young couple meet and fall in love? Allow me to imagine...

   On a bright summer day in 1808, teenagers Sam and Isabel sat perched on a giant rock beside Poplar Creek. The sun sprinkled diamonds of light on the clear, gurgling waters. On a sycamore branch above their heads, a mockingbird trilled a jubilant melody.
   "That bird's goin' to sing his lungs out, Isabel," Sam said, peering up at the tree. "Do you see him perched up there?"
   "He sounds happy, just like me, Sam. I'm glad we're here in our secret place. I can't stay long, though. I'm s'posed to be pickin' blackberries, so we can have a pie for supper."
   "I'll help you fill that bucket in a little while," Sam said, moving a little closer to the girl. "But first, I want to ask you somethin"... Do you like me?"
   "Why, course I do, Silly. You don't have to ask me that!"
   "Well, then, do you... do you..... LOVE me?"
   Isabel backed away from him, startled, and looked across the creek bed. Finally she nodded.
   "Isabel, next year I'll be nineteen. I want you to marry me. I want us to be together all our lives."
   The girl beamed, moved nearer, and threw her arms around his neck. "Oh, Sam, I want to be with you forever, too. But... I don't know what Mammy will say. She needs me to help her with all the little ones. And Pap-- why, he'd have a runnin' fit if he even thought I was down here with you alone, much less thinkin' about marryin'.  That kinda scares me to think about it, too."
   "Well, we don't need to tell a soul yet. It'll be our secret. But come on. Let's pick them berries."

   The parents would have found out, in due time, about the desires of the couple. One of the families probably would have given them a portion of land from their acreage, according to the custom of the time. The men of the community would have gathered to have a house-raising. While they built a cabin, the women would furnish food, and possibly have a quilting party at the bride's home.
   Then on a given day, when a circuit-riding preacher could be found to perform the ceremony, the wedding would take place. This would be an important social occasion. A great feast would be prepared, and friends and neighbors would arrive by wagon, horseback, or on foot. The men would barbeque a pig, goat, or deer. They would cook bear meat, wild turkey, squirrel stew, all kinds of vegetables and fruits, pies, cakes, corn pone. After the ceremony and the feasting, the guests would dance to the tunes of a fiddler until everybody was worn out.

 Having Children                                                                                                                                                                                                     Top
  The Bible record shows that Sam and Isabel had their first child on September 17,1810, a girl they named Nancy. Then on March 26, 1812, the second child, Philip, was born. Let's pretend to look in on the young family on that day.

   "Hey, Sam!" Peg the midwife called from the door of the cabin. "Come on in here, and bring little Nancy. You both need to see the cutest little baby boy I've helped to bring into this world in I-don't-know when!"
   Sam and the little girl had been picking the first spring violets that were bursting from the ground in huge purple bunches all around the yard.
   "A boy! I've got a son? Now ain't that grand! C'mon, Nancy, you've got a baby brother!"
   Sam grabbed the child's hand and rushed into the cabin. He picked her up and carried her to the bed, where Isabel lay, smiling down at the soft bundle in her arms.
   The baby cried loudly.
   "Hey, young feller! What's yer trouble?" Sam grinned. "I declare, if you ain't the spittin' image of my brother Philip! That's what we'll have to name him. All right with you, Isabel? Nancy, can you say 'Philip'?"
   The child reached down and touched the baby's head. "Pip...Pip..."
   Isabel laughed. "All right, Honey, we'll just call him that. Two Philips might get us mixed up. So Little Philip will be Pip from now on."

The War of 1812                                                                                                                                                                                                  Top
   In that very year that little Philip was born, war had broken out with England. The War of 1812 lasted for three years. Both Sam and his brother Philip joined Andrew Jackson's forces to fight in the final battle at New Orleans on January 9, 1815.
   My grandfather always welcomed the opportunity to tell the story of that battle. He would be sitting in his favorite rocking chair, singing an old hymn. As he swayed back and forth to the rhythm of the song, his clear tenor voice would quaver on the high notes:
   "When I can read my title clear, to mansions in the skies, I'll bid farewell to every fear and wipe my weeping eyes."
   Pulling on his sleeve, I'd ask, "Grandpa, tell me about how your daddy walked down to New Orleans to fight."
   He would look out into space, as if seeing the battle out there somewhere, and he'd stop rocking.
   "Well, Andrew Jackson, he was a great Indian fighter in his younger days, and everybody in Tennessee thought he was a hero. If it hadn't been for him, a lot of settlers would have been scalped and tortured. So when he called for men to come to Nashville and sign up to fight the English, my father and his brother Philip went.
   "The troops left Nashville in early fall and walked all the way down through Mississippi territory--it wasn't even a state then--clear down to New Orleans. They got there sometime in December. Two weeks after Christmas, they fought the English--and won. They piled up bales of cotton around the city; that's how they saved it."
   "Those poor men!" I would interrupt. "Don't you know they wanted to be home at Christmas?"
   "That's the way war is, Honey. It separates families. But those men hadn't really needed to fight. They didn't know it, but peace had been declared on Christmas Eve. When they heard that, they started back home. It turned real cold and snowed hard. Many of the men got sick. Some died. My uncle was one of them. They buried him somewhere along the way, and my father had to come back home without him."
   Although I knew the ending of the story, I always cried, because of poor Uncle Philip. Grandpa would resume singing about the "clear titles." I knew that had something to do with heaven, because of the part about the mansions in the skies.
   Of course I always knew that Grandpa told the story as he had heard it from his father, but years later, I was pleased when I saw proof. On the roster of the Third Tennessee Militia, the names of Samuel and Philip Seiber of Anderson County are listed as having signed up in September of 1814.
   What, I asked myself, would prompt a man with a young wife and two small children to volunteer for such a dangerous undertaking? The history of the period, plus fictional accounts, reveals the motivation.

   After the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin warned that the United States was not finished with England. "The war for independence is yet to be fought," he declared. English ships were stopping American ships and removing the sailors on the high seas: this was called impressment. The English were also keeping the Indians stirred up and supplying them with ammunition to use on the frontiers. British troops captured several coastal cities. They had shelled Baltimore, and even burned the Capitol building in Washington.
   By 1814, Americans were desperate. After Napoleon's defeat in Europe, the British forces were free to concentrate on America. Their ships were sailing toward New Orleans. Since Jackson had proven his success on the frontier against the Indians, he was assigned the task of protecting that valuable port city.
   "Old Hickory"--the name given Jackson because he was "as tough as hickory bark"--knew where to turn for help; the sharp-shooting riflemen of Kentucky and Tennessee.
   Let us suppose what happened when the Seiber brothers heard about Jackson's appeal for volunteers.

   "Phil," Sam said, "our country's in danger. Paw brought us out here when we were kids, but his paw came from the old country because he wanted freedom. We've got to keep this country free. I hear the British have even fired on Baltimore--that's where we were born! I remember when I was a little shaver no bigger than Pip, I saw George Washington on the main street there one day. He's still my hero. And, Man what a fighter against the British he was!"
   "It's a bad time, all right," Phil said. "I hear tell the British even burned the Capitol. Jackson says he needs good shots. I reckon that's you and me."
   "Yep, we sure can shoot straight. If we couldn't, we would all have starved to death by now. Since we got big enough to hold a gun, we've bagged rabbits, squirrels, quail, turkey, deer--"
   "And don't forget who killed a bear first! But Sam, I wouldn't want to shoot another man--not an Englishman, or even an Indian, less'n I thought he was gonna scalp me!"
   "I wouldn't either. But if it means keeping freedom for my kids, then I guess I'd have to!"
   "You're right, Sam. We can't leave it to somebody else. Let's go and talk to Paw. You know he'll be willin' to take care of Isabel and the children while we're gone."
   "Her folks would help out too. I hate to leave, but still I feel like it's the job of us younger men."
   When the two went to talk to their father, he agreed that they should volunteer.
   "If I was your age, I'd be goin' myself. We can't let the English, or anybody else, run over us--and that's what they're tryin' to do. Now don't you worry about your wife and kids, Sam. Your maw and me, we'll look after 'em," and the older man put his arm around his wife. "Ain't that right, Maw?"
   Maw said nothing, but her eyes filled with tears. She went to the shelf over the fireplace and picked up the Bible.
   "Boys, you remember when you were little and we struck out from Maryland one morning to come here to Tennessee?"
   "Sure, Maw," Sam said. "You read the Twenty-third Psalm to us."
   "It's still true, Boys. Listen." And she read steadily till she came to "tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." Her voice broke, and she bowed her head to hide her tears.
   "Oh, Maw, don't cry," Philip said, stroking her hair. "Why, we'll be back home just as soon as we clean out that bunch of uppity Englishmen that think they can take New Orleans away from us!"

   So the two brothers left Frost Bottom for Nashville. Once enlisted, they joined with Jackson's forces, walking down the long military road cut through the territory that is now the state of Mississippi. This road, like Boone's Wilderness Road, followed Indian and animal trails through woods and swamps to the city at the mouth of the Mississippi River on the Gulf of Mexico.
   When they finally reached New Orleans, they found that Jackson had assembled others to help the frontiersman: planters, some free Negroes, and even some pirates. Notable among the latter was Jean Laffite, a famous pirate who became an American patriot. He operated a blacksmith shop in New Orleans as a cover for his smuggling business. When he became aware of the activities of the British ships, he informed Jackson of the danger.
   Altogether, Jackson's troops numbered about fifty-five hundred. By contrast, the English had ten thousand veteran troops that had fought in the Battle of Waterloo and defeated Napoleon. Naturally, they thought they could easily handle Jackson's motley crew.
   The English landed in Louisiana Territory on a day in late December, planning to make a surprise attack on the city. They captured a plantation owner, Major Villere, but he escaped and got word to Jackson that the enemy was only eight miles away from the city. Jackson is said to have smashed his fist against a table so hard that he almost broke it, exclaiming: "...they shall not sleep on our soil! We must fight them tonight."
At seven o'clock the British, who were gathered around their camp-fires, were surprised by an onslaught of determined Americans. Fierce hand-to-hand combat resulted. In the morning, Jackson drew back and built walls of cotton bales around the city for defense.
   After initiating two limited attacks on December 28 and January 1, the British General, Pakenham, could stand to wait no longer. On January 8, 1815, he launched his major attack. Jackson was ready. The British lines fell under the woodsmen's accurate shots. Pakenham and many other of his leaders were killed. After an hour and a half, the British withdrew. They lost two thousand men, while Jackson lost only seventy-one.2
Jackson had proved true to his philosophy. He had said, "The good general does not lose men in war. His campaigns are so well planned he crushes the opposing army with a few swift blows."
   "The demoralized British fled back to their ships. The commanding officer, General Keane, sent a note to Jackson, asking if he could buy his lost battle sword. Jackson returned it with a letter expressing his regret that so many soldiers had fallen in battle.3
Jackson and his army were treated as heroes by the people of New Orleans. They staged a big parade in their honor. "They saved our city from being captured and burned," they shouted. Church bells rang and cannons boomed. Riding on his black charger, Duke, Jackson led his troops to a church. When he dismounted, twelve little girls in white dresses scattered flowers in his path. Inside the church, a choir and all the people sang a hymn of praise. Even those who could not get inside for the crowd joined in the song, thanking God for the victory.4
Although news reached Jackson that the Treaty of Ghent had been signed in Belgium, he was not convinced that the war was over. He feared that the English would attempt to take the Louisiana Territory, which they claimed that Napoleon had had no right to sell to America. Besides, he had not received official word that the war was over. He would not dismiss his troops.5
For two months, the men remained encamped. On March 13, 1815, a courier brought the official word from Washington. Only then could the men from Tennessee and Kentucky begin the long trek northward.
   Just when and where Philip Seiber died is unknown. But how ironic that he survived the fierce fighting and the long weeks of idleness, only to die on his way home. Sam's heart was certainly heavy as he left his brother's grave behind. Dream with me...

   In Frost Bottom, the dogwood and redbuds were beginning to bloom. A gentle April rain was falling. Isabel trudged drearily around the cabin. How much longer could she stand the uncertainty? She had heard a month ago that peace had been declared, and that it was official. The war was over. Still no word of Sam and Philip. Was she going to have to make it alone? She couldn't put in a crop, and she hated to depend on her father and Sam's to do everything for her.
   She picked up a bucket and went out to milk. Suddenly she noticed a gaunt, ragged man stumbling up the path from the road. When he caught sight of her, he broke into a run.
   "Sam! Oh, Sam! Is it really you?" She rushed into his outstretched arms. "I thought you might never come back."
   Sam kissed her silently. She finally broke away to ask, "Where's Philip? Did he come with you?"
   "I'll tell you later... Now, where are the children? Are they all right?"
   "Yes, they're inside. And let's get in ourselves, before we get any wetter'n we are... Sam, you look so tired. Soon as you see Nancy and Pip, I'll fix you somethin' to eat and drink."
   Their arms about each other, tears staining their cheeks, they walked into the cabin. The children, playing on the floor, looked up in astonishment.
"Nancy! Pip! Come to your daddy!" He grabbed them both and held them tight. "I've missed you so much. And my, how big you've grown while I was gone!"
   "It's been seven long months, Sam," Isabel said. "They've been the longest months of my whole life. "But now, what about Philip? Is he with your Maw and Paw?"
   "He -- he won't come back, Isabel. He was one of the bravest men in our whole outfit. He made it through the battle, but he took pneumonia on the way back home. He wasn't the only one. We buried dozens before we got back to Nashville.
   "But one thing's for sure. The English won't bother us any more. We proved to them that Americans can take care of our land. It's ours, Love, ours and Nancy's and Pip's and their children's...
   "But now I've got to go and tell Maw and Paw about Phil.. I dread it so. Pray I can be gentle-like."
"First, you must eat. Here -- here's a cold sweet potato. And buttermilk. It'll stay your stomach till supper."
   ......Sam walked slowly down the path to the cabin he had lived in as a boy. He remembered when he had first seen this valley, tucked between green hills. He and Phil had been beside themselves with curiosity. He recalled Paw's exact words:  "Boys -- Maw -- this is our land. I have the deed with my name on it -- bought it last fall. We'll build our cabin on this little rise, where we can watch the sun set over the mountains."
   He leaned against a pine tree to rest for a moment, watching the blue smoke curl up from the familiar chimney. He had dreaded the task that faced him now since the day he had shoveled the dirt over Philip's grave.
   "Help me, Lord," he whispered.
   Softly he opened the door. There they sat, dozing by the fire, their old hound Jason asleep between their chairs.
   Maw looked around first. "What -- who --- SAM!"
   Quickly, Sam knelt beside her chair.
   Paw, startled, sat forward, then rose and bent over his son.
   "Sam -- old Sam-boy -- you're home! Is Phil with you?"'
   Sam put his head in Maw's lap. He couldn't say a word.
   Where is he, Sam? Tell me ... Where's my other boy? Is he comin' later?"
   "He -- he fought brave as any man there, Paw. And he got part of the way home. Then he got so sick he couldn't come any further. I was with him till the end. He told me just before he died, 'Tell Maw and Paw I love 'em.' We buried him with some of our buddies. I wish't I could 've brought his body home."
   "He's with the Lord now," Maw said. "We'll see him again, someday." ---

   Like most veterans, Sam probably told many times the tales of the long hard trail he had traveled, the great victory over the British, the bravery of his comrades in arms, and Old Hickory's daring leadership. As Jackson continued in politics and finally became President, Sam would likely have been one of his ardent supporters. Locally, he may have been involved in the Democratic party, which Jackson helped to mold. Since Grandpa Ben was staunchly devoted to the party, he very likely was influenced by his father's example.

Twin Boys                                                                                                                                                                                                    Top
  One year after Sam's return from the war, he and Isabel had twin boys, born April 28, 1816. Perhaps that day may have gone like this:

   Sam paced restlessly from the barn to the house, to the well, and up and down the path to the road. How long was this birthing going to take? he wondered. The midwife appeared at the door.
   "Sam! You got twin boys!"
   Sam's mouth dropped open. "What! Two boys! I can't believe it! Are they all right? And Isabel -- how's she?"
   "She's weak, but she'll be fine after she rests. The babies are big, strong young-uns. Don't you hear 'em yellin'?"
   He rushed to the cabin. Isabel, propped against a pillow, smiled down at the red, wrinkle-faced babies.
   Sam grinned broadly. "Well, who'd a-thought we'd have twins? One of them will be John -- we'd decided on that. But what'll we call the other one? Somebody from the Old Testament. A prophet -- so maybe he'll grow up to be a preacher!"
   "Well, there was Abraham, and Isaiah, and Jeremiah."
   "How about Elijah? He was a strong, outdoors man. I've always liked him."
   "Then Elijah he'll be... Now, Sam, you'd best go and tell your folks and the children."
   Nancy and Pip had spent the night with their grandparents.  When Sam told them about their new little brothers, the were thrilled.
   "One for you, and one for me," Pip told Nancy.
   Maw clapped her hands for joy. "Praise the Lord! He's so good! I just felt like he'd send us a boy to make it up to us for losin' Phil -- and he's sent us two! Ain't that great, Paw? Now let me get my shawl and bonnet. And let's go see our new grandsons."

   So 1816 was a happy year, we can surmise, for the family of six. Extra expenses always occur when there is an addition to a household; evidently this was the case with Sam. I saw an old paper several years ago that would indicate this.
   I was visiting my Aunt Katie, Grandpa's youngest child. She showed me an old trunk of his, which contained several handwritten papers. I asked her permission to copy some of them. Fortunately, she allowed it, for after her death, no trace of the originals could be found.
   The tattered scrap of paper is a receipt, which reads like this:

"Received of Samuel Seiber the feel [full]
amount of a Judment [judgment] that Charles V.
Oliver _________[illegible] said Seiber this the
8 of August 1816
Durrett Oliver Sehff [sheriff?]

   I get the feeling from this that Sam was an honorable, honest man who paid his debts. Certainly his son, my grandfather, was a man of highest integrity. I judge his father to have been like that, too.
   Five years passed. Another son, Thomas, was born on November 18, 1821.

Starting a School                                                                                                                                                                                        Top
   By 1824, with four children of school age, and Thomas who would soon be ready also, the Seibers, as well as two neighbor families, realized that they needed a school. They could erect a log building, and construct benches and other furnishings. But they would need money for books, slates, maps, and other items. They might also want to hire a teacher, if none of them qualified to teach.
   For whatever the purpose, Sam and two other men borrowed money in 1824. I copied the note found in the old trunk. Aunt Katie said that the money had been used to establish the first school in Anderson County. I cannot verify that, but this is how the note reads:

   "Whereas Samuel Seiber Andrew Braden and Henry Etter all of the County of Anderson and the State of Tennessee have this day borrowed of the state of Tennessee the sum of twenty-eight dollars; and to secure the payment thereof have executed our bill single under our hands and seals, dated the 3rd day of July 1824 wherein and whereby we have promised eightyeight days after date to pay to the Bank of the Sate of Tennessee or order the said sum of twentyeight dollars. Now, know all men by these presents, that in consideration of the said sum of twenty eight dollars, loaned and advanced to us as aforesaid by the said Bank, we do hereby constitute and appoint, authorise and empower Robert Houston, of the County of Knox, or his executors or administrators, our true and lawful attorney in fact for us in our name, and on our behalf, to appear in any Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions or circuit Court to be held in the County of Knox, as aforesaid, after the said bil single shall fall due; and if the same bill shall be unpaid, and in and before said court and in our name to confess a judgment in favor of said Bank, for the said sum of Twenty eight dollars, together with legal interest and damages upon said debt accruing; and to do and perform in our name any thing or things, act or acts necessary to make the same valid and effecturl; and that these presents shall be to you the said Robert Houston or your executor or administrators, a sufficient warrant and power of your so doing.
   "In testimony whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and affixed our seals this 3rd day of July in the year 1824
Saml Seiber     Henry Etter     Andrew Breeden*"

   The three neighbors must have been pleased with their success on that occasion. Let's eavesdrop on them:

   Late in the evening, three hot, weary friends stopped their horses along the road between Knoxville and Frost Bottom. They dismounted, bent beside a stream, and cupped their hands to get a drink of cold water.
   "The fellas at the bank were sure nice to us," Henry remarked. "I think they let us have the money only because it's for a school."
   "Well, they know this is goin' to be a good crop year," Sam replied. "By the first of October, when that note's due, we'll have cash money. We can start takin' stuff from our gardens in August down there to market and sell to the city folks."
   "Sure, we'll pay off, maybe even before the due date," Andrew said. "Won't everybody be tickled when we tell 'em we're goin' to have a real school?"
   "It'll be after midnight when we get home," Sam said. "But I'm goin' to wake my young-uns up and tell 'em."
   "Do you realize that tomorrow is the Fourth of July? What a way to celebrate our country's birthday!" Henry said.
   They mounted their horses and galloped off, like men who were unafraid to tackle a new frontier. They were three good fathers who wanted their children to have a better opportunity in life than they themselves had had.

   We may assume that when fall came, the schoolhouse had been erected, the note paid, and that the children were learning to read, write, and "cipher," as they called arithmetic in those days.

 Jackson for President                                                                                                                                                                                    Top
  The main event of that fall of 1824 on the national scene was the presidential election. Jackson was one of four candidates, but since none received a majority, the decision was left up to Congress...

......February, 1825
   Sam stamped the snow from his boots at the door, hung his coat on a peg, and stalked to the fireplace. He barely nodded to Isabel as he held his hands out to warm.
   "What's the matter with you?" Isabel asked. "You look like you're madder'n an old wet hen!"
   "I am! I could bite a nail in two, I'm so mad!  While I was out a the barn, Henry Etter rode by. He said he heard that that fool Congress made John Quincy Adams the president."
   "How could they do that? Didn't Andrew Jackson get the most votes?"
   "Yes, of course he did -- the popular vote and the electoral vote both. But since nobody got the majority, Congress had to decide."
   "But to me, it's not fair, if the people want Jackson."
   "I say so, too...  That Henry Clay-- he's the scoundrel that caused it. He made a bargain with Adams that if he could persuade enough congressmen to vote for Adams, then Adams would make him--Clay--the Secretary of State."
   "I sure feel sorry for Jackson, and for his wife, too. She's had a hard enough time, without this happenin.'"
   "Well, you just wait four years, till the next election. Nobody will beat Jackson then. I know I'm goin' to do everything in my power to get out the votes in this county. Old Hickory and his Rachel will live in the White House in 1829."

   Actually, Jackson was elected in 1828. Although he realized his goal, his beloved wife died before he took office. Three days before Christmas, she suffered a heart attack, the victim of continuous slander by political enemies.
   Many of Jackson's followers from the frontier traveled to Washington to see him inaugurated. They startled the more cultured Easterners with their boisterous manner and "their muddy boots staining the carpets of the White House." [Stone]
   It is not likely that Sam made the trip, for only the year before, he and Isabel had another set of twins--a boy named Samuel and a girl named Maria. With seven children to feed, the father surely would have been hard at work.  Nevertheless, he must have been glad to know that his old battle commander had reached the peak of his career.

   March, 1829
   ,,,, Henry Etter went to Washington with some of his friends from Knoxville. When he returned, he stopped by to tell Sam and Isabel all about it.
   "Wish you could've been with us, Sam. Old Andy was so glad to see us. Lots of the fellers that was with us at New Orleans made it up there...But Andy looks bad. He's grievin' over his wife, of course.
   "We had ice cream and cake at the White House--it was powerful good. That's sure a fine house."
   "I'll betcha old Andy would rather be back at the Hermitage, though," Sam grinned, "a-lookin' out for his crops and his horses."

Losing Isabel                                                                                                                                                                                                       Top
From 1829 until 1832, the household must have been a busy place, full of fun and  laughter. It consisted of two grown children, teen-age twins, a smaller boy, and the younger twins. Then in mid-August of 1832, Isabel bore another baby, whose birth was not recorded. On October 2, Isabel was killed by lightning, and the baby died for lack of care. (This information came by oral history.)

October 2, 1832.....
   Isabel stood at the door, peering anxiously at the dark clouds boiling up over the mountain. The air felt heavy. Although it was mid-afternoon, it looked like almost nightfall.
   "Children, come inside," she called to Thomas and the twins, who were making mud pies in the yard. "It's going to start pouring the rain in a few minutes. Hurry, now."
   "Oh, Ma, do we haf to?" little Maria complained.
   "This minute, get in here."
   She checked on the baby, asleep in the cradle. She thought she would go ahead with cooking supper, before he woke up wanting to nurse. She was hoping that Sam and the big kids, working in the far field, would make it to the barn before the storm struck. "It's kinda strange, this weather," she mumbled. "More like July."
   The children trooped in just as huge raindrops began falling.
   "Shhhh!" she warned. "Don't wake the baby... Now just sit quietly. The storm won't hurt you, and it'll soon be over. I'm cookin' you a good supper."
   "What makes the lightnin', Ma?" Thomas wanted to know.
   "It's electricity in the air, Son. I don't exactly understand it, but I know it's always followed by thunder. When your Pa gets in, maybe he can explain it better."
   She turned to the fireplace to stir the fragrant stew in a pot hanging on the spit. She picked up a big spoon. Suddenly a blinding light flashed through the room, and Isabel fell to the floor. The children heard the loud clap of thunder and the roar of crashing stones, as the chimney fell to pieces. Two huge stones rolled from the fireplace to the middle of the room.
   Sam came rushing in, wringing wet. He froze in horror when he saw Isabel. He knelt beside her and felt for her heartbeat. She was still in death.
   "Dear Lord!" he cried. "What can I do? I can't do without Isabel!"
   The children were crying.
   "Pa, what's wrong? Is Ma hurt?" Maria asked.
   The storm had abated. Pip, John, Elijah, and Nancy came in.
   "Pa, the chimney's gone! Lightnin' musta struck it----"  Pip stopped in mid-sentence.
   "Saddle up, Pip, and go get Granny Frost and Granny Seiber. Right now."
   Nancy bent over her mother's body and took her hand." I'm here, Ma, and don't you worry. I'll take care of these children." She kissed the cold forehead.
   Then she rose and began singing the song her mother had loved.
   "I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in His arms,
   In the arms of my dear Saviour, Oh, there are ten thousand charms."
   "Tom," Nancy turned to her brother. "Look in the chest and get that coverlet that Granny Frost's mother wove back in Virginia. Ma set such store by it, she never wanted to use it. We'll put it over her now.... John and Elijah, you pick up them rocks out of the floor and take 'em outside.....  Sammy and Maria, you go sit over there in the corner. I'll get you somethin' to eat soon."
   Sam stood in the middle of the room, stunned. Never in his life had he felt so helpless. The baby! What would happen to the baby? What would happen to all of them? Why, Lord, why?

   The family survived. Perhaps both Sam's and Isabel's parents helped to care for the children. But the burden of responsibility would likely have fallen on twenty-two-year-old Nancy's shoulders.
   Like other pioneer women, Nancy must have learned from her mother to perform the many hard chores involved in housekeeping: spinning, weaving, and sewing the clothes; washing on a scrub board with lye soap which they had made; ironing with a flatiron; milking cows and churning butter; tending the garden; drying fruits, preserving, making sauerkraut; building fires and cooking. She had also taken much of the responsibility for the younger children, Thomas, and twins Maria and Samuel.

A Second Marriage                                                                                                                                                                                          Top
   Sam, grieving for Isabel, surely grieved also for Nancy. He would realize that she could not marry and have children unless he remarried. Would it not be reasonable for him to look around the community for a second wife?
   Evidently that is what he did, for the Bible record states that on November 30, 1834, he married Elizabeth Wilkins Chiles, a widow fifteen years his junior. Her first husband, Macajah Chiles, may have died at about the same time as Isabel. Elizabeth and Macajah had had  three children: Polly, who was seven at the time of the marriage; Sally, five; and William, four.

   "You know that old sayin' -- 'Nothin' ventured, nothin' gained.' I'll never know what she'd say less'n I ask her."
   "But she's got three little ones, Pa. Where would we put 'em all?"
   "They're not very big; they won't take up much room. 'Course, we might have to add on a room here... Now, be honest with me, Nan-girl. If I married, wouldn't you feel free? I've noticed at meetin' when that young preacher Aaron is here, how you-all look at each other."
   Nancy blushed. "Oh, Pa, don't feel like you have to marry on account of me. I promised Ma I'd take care of all of us. And I'm doin' my best to live up to my promise."
   "You're doin' a great job, Daughter. I couldn't ask for any better. But it's not fair to you. You deserve to live your own life. Now, come Friday, I'm a-goin' to see what that pretty young widow has to say."
   ......Sam dressed extra carefully early Friday morning. He had curried his horse Reuben till his coat gleamed. He rode by the church yard and looked over to Isabel's grave. Slowly he went down the road, deep in thought. Hadn't the Lord himself said something about letting the dead bury their dead? Isabel--there could never be one like her, his first love.
   About mid-morning, he tied Reuben's reins to the Chiles' fence. The cold north wind felt good on his hot face. His throat felt dry. He knocked at the door timidly. He took off his hat, but his hands were shaking so that he could hardly hold it.
   "Who is it?" Lizzie called out.
   "It's me--Sam Seiber. Can I come in?"
   She opened the door. "Why, yes, of course, Sam. What do you want? Is somebody sick? I saw you and all your children at church last Sunday. Has somethin' happened to one of them, or your maw or paw?"
"No, Miss Lizzie--or would ya ruther I call ya Elizabeth? My folks are all well--about like common. I-- I-- Well, I just might as well come to the point. You know good and well I need a wife. I believe you need a husband. Your children need a father, and my children need a mother. Now what do you say? Lizzie, will you marry me?"
   "Sit down, Sam. You're shakin' like a leaf. And I guess I'd better sit down, too, before I fall over."
   "This is the scariest thing I've done since I went huntin' for bear the first time," he said, sitting in the closest chair.
   "Well, Sam, I appreciate you thinkin' enough of me to ask me. But I can't say yes or no right now. I'll have to think about it for awhile."
   "I'm a-comin' back ever' day till you give me an answer. Say, have you anything cooked for dinner? All I had for breakfast was a biscuit and a little piece of ham. I'm plum hungry."
   "How about a bowl of rabbit stew? I made it early this mornin.'".........
   True to his word, Sam was back on Saturday. Lizzie said she had decided. Her answer was Yes.
   "Now Lizzie, I know it might sound like I'm a-rushin' you. But why don't we go ahead tomorrow and get married right after the preacher finishes preachin'? Wouldn't it be fun to give everybody a nice surprise?"
   "Sam, you do beat all! Why  not wait at least till Christmas?"
   "No use waitin'. We've made up our minds. Isabel and Micajah, they're just as dead as they'll ever be. What do you say I'll get word to the preacher to come prepared, and we can go right now and get the license."
   So on November 30, 1834, the two spoke their vows in the presence of the congregation, families, and friends.

   Elizabeth was certainly a courageous woman. When she assumed responsibility for a houseful of step-children, she was twenty-nine years old. Assuming that Nancy and Philip were still single, the blended family numbered twelve: mother, father, two adult children, three teenagers, three seven-year-olds, a five-year-old, and a four-year-old. Probably they did build on to the house.
   As if ten children were not enough, Sam and Elizabeth then began another family. Ten months after their marriage, Frederick was born, on September 2, 1835. Two years later, Elizabeth, always called Betty, was born on June 12. Their second daughter, Massey, was born January 1, 1839. 

   One event of great regional concern occurred in 1838. The federal government removed  the Cherokee Indians from the states of Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina to Oklahoma. Sam and Elizabeth and their neighbors may have had friends among local Indians.
   A local historian writes that there were quite a few Cherokees living in Anderson County. "Some intermarriages had taken place before 1838. More intermarriage was to take place later because many Indians escaped from the troops supervising their removal and fled back into the remote regions of the mountainous country they loved. Cherokee descendants in the county today are proud of their ancestry."6  
The long march, called the Trail of Tears, resulted in about four thousand deaths from cold, hunger, and disease. Others were killed in trying to escape from the soldiers.7 They were marched into stockades, and their homes were burned and pillaged by lawless men who followed the soldiers.8
   The emotions of the settlers who knew Indians as friends and neighbors were certain to have been stirred by the cruelty of this injustice.

Two Deaths                                                                                                                                                                                                             Top
   By 1840, the older children were gradually leaving the family nest. Although I found no record of Nancy's marriage, I can speculate that she was already a bride, and perhaps a mother. On January 28, 1840, John married Alvina Kincaid. Then on May 2, 1842, Philip married Mary McKamey.9
   Close on the heels of Philip's marriage came two deaths. On May 17, John's twin, Elijah, died. And on August 2, Maria's twin, Sammy, died. Cause of their deaths is unknown. Here again, we can imagine what could have happened.

   May 17, 1842
   About dusk, Elijah got on his horse, Star, outside his brother John's cabin. The twins had enjoyed a hard day's work together, putting up a split-rail fence around the yard. Alvina was delighted.
   "Thank you, Elijah," the young woman called to him from the doorway. "Now I'm a-gion' to plant flowers all along that fence. We'll have the prettiest yard of anybody around!"
   The two boys had not been apart until John and Alvina's marriage, two years before. Elijah had helped build the cabin. In the spring, he had helped to put in the crop.
   Now, after a long day of back-breaking work, he was eager to get home. Even though the children would have already eaten, Mama Liz would be keeping his food warm.
   "Get goin', Star!" he called. "I'm so hungry I could eat a buffalo!"
   He spurred the horse to a gallop. Suddenly, a deer leaped out of the woods and dashed across the road. The frightened horse reared up on his hind legs, throwing Elijah off. He landed at the bottom of a deep ravine, hitting the ground with such an impact that he never knew what happened. His neck was broken.
   Star went on home. When Thomas heard him, he went out to greet his brother. Seeing that Star was riderless, he called to his father.
   "Elijah's been thrown. He may be hurt, I'm goin' to look for him."
   Grabbing a lantern, he rode along slowly, stopping every few minutes to shout, "Elijah! Where are you?"
   By the time he reached John's cabin, it was pitch dark. But John insisted that they continue searching. Early the next morning, they found the body.
   They buried the young man beside his mother. As they left the cemetery, Sam cried, as had David when his son Absalom died: "Oh, Elijah, my son, my son! Would God I had died for thee!"

   ........Two months later, on a hot July afternoon, Polly, Maria, and Sammy were in the garden picking beans. The girls were getting more than their brother.
   "You're a slow-poke, Sammy Seiber!" Maria chided him.
   "I don't feel good," the boy replied. "I'm goin' to have to go inside. I want to go to bed."
   He stumbled to the house. At the door, he dipped the gourd into the water bucket and drank thirstily. When Elizabeth saw him, her eyes widened in surprise.
   "My head hurts, Mama Liz. And my legs don't want to go."
   "She felt his forehead. "You have fever," she said. "Come on and let me put you to bed." He followed without a word.
   She bathed his head with a cold wet cloth. He began to shake with chills.
   That night he tossed wildly, thrashing his arms and legs.
   "He's talkin' outa his head," Lizzie told Sam.
   The next morning, his fever was down, but he lay lifeless.
   "Sam," Lizzie said, "I think you'd better go and see if you can find the doctor. Sammy is bad off."
   It was noon before Sam located old Doctor Blalock. In mid-afternoon, he rode up.
   Black bag in hand, the old doctor walked briskly to the bedside and bent over the feverish boy.
   "Hmmm......." Finally he straightened and turned to Sam.
   "Could this boy have drunk water from an old well? Or maybe milk that had been out of the spring house a long time? I'm goin' to bleed him, and hope for the best. But it looks like the typhoid fever to me."
   "Is he goin' to get well, Doc?" Sam asked.
   "I'll be honest, Sam. I can't tell. He'll have a good chance if the fever breaks. But that could be ten days from now. Be sure to keep the flies off of him, or somebody else could catch this."
   Each morning, Sammy would be a little better, but by nightfall he would be raging hot and delirious. Two weeks passed. Then one morning he lapsed into unconsciousness.
   Sam sat by the bedside that night in flickering candlelight, praying silently. At midnight, while a thunderstorm raged outside, Sammy breathed for the last time.
   While the thunder rumbled and rain poured down, the anguished father knelt by the bed. "Dear, God," he cried. "Why did it have to happen in a storm? First my Isabel, now this child!  Both while the heavens rage! It's not been even two months since we lost  Elijah! I  just don't understand!  Where am I going to find peace?"
   As if in answer, the storm subsided. When morning came, the sky was cloudless, and birds sang.
   Late in the afternoon, the family and neighbors gathered by the graves of Isabel and Elijah.
   Neighbors carried the pine box to the mound of newly-upturned soil. As they lowered Sammy's body, Nancy stepped forward and placed her hand on the box. "Goodbye, Little Boy," she whispered. Then she began singing:

   Come, sorrowing souls, lean on Jesus' breast,
   The day is done, 'tis time for rest.
   Come, ye weary, receive his love,
   Set your affections on things above."

   The preacher spoke words of comfort, and prayed. Finally, he read from the Bible, concluding with the words of Job: " the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
   The family stood huddled together until the grave was filled. As they turned to leave, Sam told them: "No matter what else may happen, we must all help one another. This day will soon be over. And tomorrow, we'll go on living till the Lord's ready for us to come to Him."

   Back home, the family soon was busy, harvesting the crops. Polly and Maria, missing their little brother, would stay together constantly. And as the leaves began to turn gold and scarlet, Elizabeth gave birth to another daughter. On September 27, Annalisa was born. Thus within the space of five months, the family experienced a wedding, two deaths, and a birth.

An Unexpected Wedding                                                                                                                                                                                          Top
   The next spring, Sam and Elizabeth were shocked when one his his boys married one of her girls. When they had married in 1834, they probably thought that their children from separate marriages would grow up regarding one another as brothers and sisters. They all may have started out that way, but on March 18, 1843, twenty-two-year-old Thomas Seiber and sixteen-year-old Polly Chiles were married, with brother John, who was a justice of peace and eventually an ordained Baptist minister, performing the ceremony.10
   Grandpa had told me about the event, always chuckling warmly when he did so. One of my cousins recalls having heard about the parents' reaction to the news of the pair's intentions. It seems that when Polly went to the kitchen to tell her mother, Elizabeth became so furious that she slapped the girl across the room. But Father Sam, apparently having suspected what was going on, merely grinned. Thomas went to the barn with the news, and Sam said, "Well, Son, if that's what you want and you're sure, go ahead."
   Let us hope that the quick-tempered mother calmed down and helped with wedding preparations. No doubt the siblings wee delighted with the opportunity for a big celebration. In pioneer days, weddings were the greatest social occasion they enjoyed. I like to think that the mother apologized....

   Polly lay on the bed, her face buried in the pillow. Her shoulders shook from the violence of her sobbing.
   Her mother tiptoed to the bedside.
   "Polly -- Daughter -- I'm sorry. I guess I've just refused to think of you as a young woman. To me, you're still my little girl."
   She stroked the soft brown curls.
   "Why, it seems to me just yesterday that you were making mud pies and dressing up stick dolls! I should have realized that you're no longer a child. Will you forgive me, Polly?"
   The girl sat up and put her arms around her mother.
   "Yes, Ma. I understand. I want to be a good wife and mother, like you. You do love Tom, don't you?"
   "Just like he's my own. He's a fine young man, and a good blacksmith. He'll make you a decent livin'. And I'll see to it that you have a new dress and a pretty wedding."
   "Tom's already talked to John about it. Of course, we want him to marry us, and he said he would -- if it's all right with you and Pa."
   "Well, let's not cry any more. We've got a lot to do before the wedding."

   John's business as justice of peace was flourishing, for several marriages in Whitley's Compilation list him as the officiating officer. Among them were two more for family members in 1845: Maria Seiber married Thomas Burriss on February 23. Sally Chiles married Elijah Duncan on March 28.
   As the older chldren married, Sam and Elizabeth had others, seemingly to keep the house ever full. In 1847, they had a fourth daughter, Belinda.
   [I can vaguely remember "Aunt Lindy," who lived with Grandpa. She and "Aunt Betty" had a back bedroom where they stayed, smoking corn-cob pipes. They had white hair pulled into a bun on top of their heads and wore long black cotton dresses. I thought they must be the oldest people in the whole world. Neither of them ever married, and lived to be over ninety.]

Although Sam was essentially a farmer, he may also have been a blacksmith. In his autobiography, John speaks of working in the blacksmith shop, as if it were a family enterprise. Sam may have had other interests as well. A note from Grandpa's trunk, dated October 3, 1948, is provocative. It reads:

   "Let Samuel Seiber have the Patt on money you have collected for me after paying yourself $4.81. R. Ohm."

   Could the "Patt on money" refer to a patent?
   On the other hand, the note may have had something to do with politics. Was a Mr. Patton running for office? In October of 1848, a Presidential campaign was in full swing. Democrat Lewis Cass ran against Zachary Taylor, who won the close race. Surely Sam would have been working for Cass!

   Other than the election, the big news on the national scene was the discovery of gold in California. But the most controversial issue was slavery.
   Anderson County historian Hoskins writes that "...comparatively few householders...owned, could afford, or needed slaves...Several families...had slaves as housekeepers or nurses." Some planters had slaves to work the fields, and a "few merchants in Anderson County...bought and sold slaves for profit."11
   Now with all their children, it appears that Sam and Elizabeth could have used some help, but I have never heard mention of their owning slaves. But Philip apparently did, according to a story I shall relate later on.
   One source records Anderson County population in 1850 as 6,391 white, 506 slaves, and 41 free blacks.12

Birth of Benjamin                                                                                                                                                                                                  Top
   On March 26, 1849, Benjamin Franklin Seiber was born. Father Sam was ten days away from his fifty-ninth birthday. Mother Elizabeth was forty-four...

   ....Sunday morning, March 25
   Elizabeth woke early, feeling the sharp pains that told her the time was coming for delivery.
   "Sam," she called, shaking him awake. "I can't go to church today. I didn't think it was time yet, but I've had too many babies not to know."
   "Do you think I ought to go after Peg?"
   "Not yet. You take the children and go on to church. I'll be all right here."
   Heavily, awkwardly, she lumbered out of bed, prepared the breakfast, and helped the family get ready.
   "You sure you want me to go?" Sam asked.
   "Of course. I've had eight. I ought to know how by now!"
   As she waved her brood out of sight, she grimaced, and staggered back to bed. She groaned in misery, glad that no one was there to hear.
   When the family got back in early afternoon, Sam came quickly to the bed.
   "Go for Peg now," she instructed. "Drop the children off at Nancy's."
   When Sam reached the midwife's house, he found her in the garden, planting seeds.
   "Drop them seeds, Peg," he called. "Elizabeth is a-needin' you."
   "Well, you kin jist wait till I finish out this row," she replied, keeping her steady pace.
   Finally she gathered up her equipment, complaining all the while.
   "Don't you think you-uns have enough children now, Sam? A man your age -- why, you'll never live to see this-un grown."
   "Now Peg, I'm jus' now a-reachin' my prime. I can still do as much work as any man in this bottom."
   "Well then, maybe so. But think about your wife. She's a-gettin' to the time for her change of life. Mark you, this ain't goin' to be no Sunday picnic tonight."
   When they reached the house, before they tethered the horses, they could hear screams. Sam retreated to the barn, while Peg went in to Elizabeth.
   Well after midnight, Peg came out to get Sam.
   "Everything's over. You've got a son. Come on and see him."
   Sam slapped his knee. "A boy! I wanted another boy so bad. And I'm a-namin' him for one of the smartest men this country has ever seen--old Ben Franklin."
   "Well, I'm a-goin' back home, Sam... And don't you come and git me no more! Enough's enough, I say. And you've got enough young-uns to satisfy any man!"
   "Don't you want to stay here till daylight, Peg?"
   "Nope. I can see in this moonlight plain as day. I'm a-headin' for my own bed fast as I can. I'm plum' tuckered out." She untied her horse and hopped on. "Now go see your wife and that big boy."
   As Peg galloped off, Sam strode toward the house. "She's right, "he mumbled to himself. "This will be the last for us."
   He gently pushed open the door and tiptoed in.
   "That you, Sam?" Elizabeth called softly. "Get the lamp and come over here and just see what I've got."
   She lay still and pale against the pillow, her arm curved above the round fuzzy head of the baby.
   Sam bent to kiss her on the forehead, then rubbed the baby's head. "My, my, who's he look like?"
   He's the prettiest one yet, Pa. Just wait till he opens his eyes. They're blue as cornflowers."
   "We'll talk more later. You need to sleep now."
   Although Sam got into bed, he could not sleep. His thoughts raced. How good God had been to him! Like David said in one of the psalms, he thought, "Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them."
   As soon as little Ben is able to sit up good, I'll put him on my horse in front of me and take him everywhere I go. I'm goin' to teach him everything I know: about the Bible and the Old Harp songs. And all of Ben Franklin's words from his almanac. I'll tell him about seeing George Washington, and traveling down the Wilderness Road. And about Old Hickory and that great battle in New Orleans. Old Peg thinks I won't live to see little Ben grown. Maybe I'll surprise that old biddy-hen.
   He prayed then, "Lord, you saw fit to take two of my boys, but now in my old age, we've been blessed with another one. I'm grateful to you." As the first rays of the sun peeped through the window, he slept.

 A Preacher and a Moonshiner                                                                                                                                                                  Top
  In 1852, John was ordained to the ministry and held several pastorates in the area. Today, he would be called a bivocational pastor. He tells in his autobiography that he had to work every day "either on the farm or in the blacksmith shop" to support his wife and seven girls. In March of 1856, he was called as pastor of Poplar Creek, where he "had the privilege of preaching to the companions of ...[his] youth, baptizing nearly all the people in the neighborhood."13  

   While John turned out to be a preacher, Philip was, according to family legend, the operator of a whiskey still. My source of information is my cousin, Jessie May Compton Burris. As a child, she heard our Great-aunt Betty tell about the trip she and her mother made to the still site to attempt to persuade Philip to give up his dangerous business.
Early one morning they packed a market basket full of lunch and set out on the long, rugged hike up the mountain. About noon they arrived at their destination, to find Philip running off a batch of the brew.
   He offered his stepmother a drink. "Just take a little, Mammy. You're plumb tuckered out; it'll make you feel better."
  She refused. She alternately scolded and pleaded, all to no avail. He assured her that her fears were unfounded, and that he was completely safe. As they prepared to leave, he slipped a jar of the moonshine into the basket.
   "Here, Betsy, when you get home, fix Mammy up a toddy. She's going to need it by the time you get home."
   He was right; she was bushed. "Betsy," she said, "bring me a little toddy from that jar Phil put in the basket. I'm plumb played out.
I sure hope them revenooers don't kill Phil."14
    The exact date of this episode is uncertain, but his death occurred on January 22, 1861. Jessie Mae told the story as related by Aunt Betty:

   For some time, unfriendly relationships had been developing with the neighboring Duncan family. What started it all is unknown. On one particular January morning, Philip saw members of the Duncan family approaching his house. He told his wife, their children, and some slaves to go to the attic.
   When the men rode into the yard, Philip went to the door with his hands up. "I surrender," he said.
   Cal Duncan shot him. He fell to the ground at the doorstep, next to a big flat rock. He played dead, but managed to slip his pocketbook under the rock.
   Meanwhile, the attackers went into the house, searched and plundered it, then left. One of the children recalled later that she was so frightened that she thought the men downstairs could hear her heart beating, it was so loud. She also remembered the black children's eyes rolled back till the whites glowed in the dark.
   The family came down and brought Philip inside. As they propped him in a chair, he called for his pipe. He told them where his money was, took a few draws on his pipe, and died.
   The next morning, his brothers Tom and Fred went out early. When Fred came home, clothes bloody, he told his mother they had shot a big black bear.
   "I wish you hadn't done that," his mother said.
   That afternoon, they had Philip's funeral. Aunt Betty said that not one tear was shed. "We were all too mad to cry," she explained.
   Ben, who was twelve years old at the time, later made peace with the Duncans. He went to a party or some social gathering and was told that he had better leave. "Mose Duncan is coming, and he'll kill you."
   Ben said that he would not leave, as he was not afraid. When Mose arrived, he asked Ben, "Will you walk down to the orchard with me?"
   Ben agreed to do so.
   Mose said, "Now, Ben, there have been hard feelings between our families. But I've never done anything against you, nor you against me. Are you willing to forgive and forget?"
   "I am," Ben replied.
   The two shook hands. The feud was over.

The Civil War                                                                                                                                                                                                            Top
   On April 13, 1861, the Civil War began when Fort Sumter, South Carolina, was taken by the Confederates. Even as the nation was divided, so was the state of Tennessee in regard to secession. The middle and western sections favored it, but the eastern section generally opposed it. In May, a popular vote was scheduled for June 9. Feelings were bitter. Companies of rebel troops were mustered into the militia.
   "One unit camped on College Hill, home of East Tennessee University, most of whose students had deserted the campus to join the Confederate Army."14
   Others were joining the Union troops.
   Tennessee, the eleventh state to secede, voted 104,913 to 47,238 to join the Confederacy.15 Neighbors found that every bad feeling they had ever had for one another escalated. One historian writes: "The worst elements of society were aroused, and bad men took occasion to vent their spite on such as they did not like. Old family feuds broke out afresh. And the land was full of murders and robbery. Bands of the worst men seized the opportunity, scoured the country at night, calling quiet old farmers to their doors and shooting them down in cold blood...It was a reign of terror--war at every man's door."16

June 9, 1861
    Sam sat smoking his pipe when Fred came rushing in.
   "Pa, I've just heard the results--we've seceded! We're now part of the Confederacy! Long live the South!"
   Sam sighed. "I was afraid it would turn out like that. I didn't vote--I couldn't turn against my party--but I was hopin' that Tennessee would stay part of the United States government. But I guess it won't make too much difference to us folks up here in  Frost Bottom."
   "Maybe not to you, Pa, but it does to me. I'm a-goin' to join up with the Southern boys. Soon as I can get my stuff together, I'm a-leavin'!"
   "Do you have to, Son? Your Ma is a-goin' to be heart-broken. She sets a lot of store by you."
   "No, Pa, I don't reckon I hafta go, but I want to. What can you say? Didn't you strike out for New Orleans with old Andy Jackson and leave your wife and two little young-uns? I'm a single man and foot-loose!"
   Sam stalked over to the fireplace, and knocked the ashes from his pipe. "You'll have to tell your Ma. But be prepared for a fight from her. And remember this. You'll have plenty of friends enlistin' on the Union side. Think about how you're a-goin' to feel when you face them on the battlefield."
   "The Duncan boys are joinin' the Northern side. That's enough reason for me to get me a gray suit. Now what have you got to say, Pa?"
   Turning abruptly, Sam retreated to the creek bank and sat on the giant rock to think things through.
   Although he had been a faithful Democrat for years, he opposed both secession and slavery. He loved his country, hated to see it divided. And he could not justify one man's owning another. He had not approved of Philip's buying the black family, even though he knew that they were not mistreated.
   Now Fred would be fighting for principles he could not condone. Nevertheless, he made up his mind that he would give him his blessing when he left.
   The next morning as the family gathered around the breakfast table, the atmosphere was strained. Fred's gear was packed and waiting at the door. As soon as he ate, he would leave for Knoxville. Sam noticed Elizabeth's haggard face. He knew that she had slept little. The girls, usually chattering, were silent. Only young Ben seemed his usual happy self.
   Sam looked at the family before the usual blessing. "Children, this is the first time any of you has left home. But it's not the end of the world. Fred will be coming back one of these days. Long before any of you were born, I went off to war, and I got back safe and sound. Let's just trust the Lord to bring Fred hoe, too."
   He picked up the Bible. "Listen to what the Lord told Joshua: "I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.'  If this is true for Joshua, it's true for us. Ma, say grace." The children bowed as their mother prayed.
   Elizabeth brought a pan full of hot biscuits to the table, with milk gravy, fresh butter, and several kinds of jelly.
   "Eat hearty, Fred, for you're not goin' to get another breakfast like this in the army," Sam said.
   "I know," Fred replied. "I'm goin' to miss your good cookin', Ma. Nobody sets a better table than you."
   After they had eaten, Fred went around the table to his mother. "Thanks, Ma. Here's somethin' I want you to keep for me till I get back." He handed her a ten-dollar gold piece.
   "I'm not goin' to say good-bye-- Ben, you be good. I won't be gone long."
   Sam's heart seemed to stop. He remembered Phil's words when the two of them had left home as young men to go to New Orleans--and Phil had not returned.
   As Fred picked up his knapsack and left, the girls followed him outside and stood watching as he strode down the road. Just before he got out of sight, he turned and waved.
   Sam realized that his best help on the farm was gone. At seventy-one, he no longer had the energy to work from sun-up till sun-down. When he got up in the morning, his back and knees were so stiff he could hardly walk. He would have to depend on Ben and the girls to help him.
   One night at bed-time, he called the family together.
   "You've been goin' around here with long faces for a week now. Well, I miss Fred as much as you do, but we've got to carry on. We're goin' to do the best we can. You girls can help in the fields, and Ben, you're big enough to be my right-hand man."
   Lindy began crying. "I can't hoe and chop weeds!"
   "Stop bein' a baby," Betty chided her. "Of course we'll help you, Pa. Just tell us what to do."
   "I can plow, Pa," Ben said. "Anything Fred's been a-doin', I can do, too."
   "This war can't hurt us, back here in these hills. We'll pray for Fred, work this land, and stick together."

   Actually, the family did not hear from Fred any more after he left. Although the others may have given up hope, his mother looked for his return until her dying day. Nearly fifty years later, Grandpa got a letter stating that his brother Fred had died in the Home for Confederate Veterans in Hermitage, Tennessee. He sent his younger son Ed to pick up his trunk, which contained an old uniform and little else.

   Where had Fred been since 1865? Why had he not contacted his family? Intrigued by the mystery, I contacted the Tennessee State Archives for information. They sent a Photostat of Fred's application to the Home, dated June 22, 1910. He stated that he was a resident of Clinton, Tennessee, and that he was indigent and disabled. He stated that he had enlisted in the Third East Tennessee Battalion in 1861 under Lt. Col. Brazelton17, and that he got out of the army by "taking the oath" [of allegiance to the federal government] at Camp Morton, Indiana.
   Attached to the application was a note from the president of the Home to the Adjutant General of the War Department, checking on the validity of Fred's claim. His reply was that Fred's name was not on the rolls of the Third Battalion, but that a Frederick Seiber enlisted on April 21, 1862, in Company K, Infantry, Thomas Legion of North Carolina. The last company roll, April 6, 1864, showed him "dropped as a deserter," but that he was reported captured June 5, 1864, at Piedmont, Virginia, and released March 22, 1865, at Camp Morton, Indiana, on taking the oath of allegiance.
   The Archives also provided records of another Frederick Seiber who was in the Union army. He enlisted on August 23, 1863, at Loudon, Tennessee, in Company I, Ninth Tennessee Cavalry, and mustered out at Knoxville, September 11, 1865.
   Confused by the disparity in these records, I checked the 1860 census of Anderson County. It lists three Frederick Seibers! "Our" Fred's name appears as a dependent of Samuel. Two others are listed as heads of households: one aged 26, another aged 18. All three were probably cousins.
   Two Fred Seibers fighting on opposite sides were representative of many other Tennessee families. Sometimes even brothers joined opposite forces.
   The whole state suffered tremendously from the War. Four hundred and fifty battles and skirmishes, more than any other state except Virginia, were fought on Tennessee soil. She furnished more troops for the Confederacy than any other state: 136,000. Most of the 31,092 who joined Union forces were from East Tennessee.18
   The people of East Tennessee suffered more than almost any others. Because of its strategic location, it was the "Keystone of the Confederate Arch."19 The railroad between Chattanooga and Bristol connected the deep South with Virginia, and the Confederate capital at Richmond. If Union forces could occupy East Tennessee, they could cut off the main lines of Confederate communication. Thus Lincoln ordered an "all-out advance" into East Tennessee from the base in Cincinnati.
   On November 8, 1861, Union troops burned nine wooden railroad bridges between Bristol and Stevenson, Alabama. The Confederates placed Knoxville under martial law, and all the culprits who were caught were publicly hanged.
   Some of the Seiber family quite possible attended one of these hangings. Jessie Mae Burris recalls Aunt Betty's story of such an occasion:

Great-grandmother Seiber rode horseback from Frost Bottom to Knoxville to witness a hanging. It is unknown how many family members attended, but since the market basket was packed with food, she must not have gone alone. Sine Aunt Betty described the incident in such vivid detail, she must have been there.
   "The big old hanging tree was located at Western Avenue and Broadway, on the lawn of what was later Boyd Junior High School [which several cousins attended].
   "The luckless man to be hanged by the neck until dead was dressed in his burial clothes, seated on his coffin in the back of a wagon, with a rope knotted around his neck and the other end of the rope tied to a big limb of the tree above his head. The wagon was hitched to a team of big black horses.
   "The sheriff lifted a whip high, gave the horses a cut, after placing a black hood over the prisoner's head. The horses took off, jerking the wagon from under the man, who hung there and kicked for perhaps ten seconds before the sheriff cut him down and a doctor pronounced him dead. He was then placed in his coffin and his kin took him away to bury. Then the festivities began. Everybody rejoiced that justice had been served.

   Cumberland Gap, on the border between Kentucky and Tennessee, was a key position for both North and South. Although Kentucky was neutral, Union troops assembled there. But it was vital to the Confederacy to hold the Gap. That task was assigned to General Zollicoffer. The Gap was under heavy siege during the summer of 1862.
   If Sam thought that Frost Bottom was safe, he was mistaken. His farm was approximately forty miles south of the Gap. The countryside was ravaged by foraging Rebel troops.
   Among the papers in the old trunk was the following note:

                            "Robertsvill Tenn  May 27, 1862
Samuel Seiber has leav to pass the pickits from
day to [day] on his farm on good behavier and Loylty
to the confederate stats           O L Blackwell capt"

   Let's imagine the scene....

May 27, 1862
   The family was eating breakfast when they heard a man's voice outside.
   "Come out, Old Man. I need to talk to you."
   Sam went to the door. A tall young man in gray uniform sat on his horse, a fine chestnut. Sam drew himself up to his full height and asked gruffly, "What do you want?"
   "I know you're like the rest of the people around here. You're all Yankee-lovers. Well, my men are camped down on your creek--and I don't know how long we'll be here. I'm here to warn you and your family not to give us any trouble."
   Sam looked the proud officer squarely in the eye.
   "Captain, my son is on your side. He enlisted the very week that Tennessee seceded. Besides that, I'll have you to know that I fought with Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. That was long before you were born, Sir."
   The captain looked at the ground and shifted in the saddle.
   "My apologies, Sir. I'll tell my men to let you go through to your far field. But to be sure they won't harm you, I'm going to write you a note of permission."

   On June 6, Union troops took Cumberland Gap from the Rebels, but by September it was back in Confederate hands. Three thousand men were left to hold it. A year later, in September of 1863, General Burnside and the Union troops took the Gap again. They were on their way to Knoxville from Kentucky.
The countryside between the Gap and Knoxville furnished food for both armies in turn. Contemporary accounts tell of the hardships inflicted on both the people and the property.
   My other maternal great-grandfather, Charles Lones, who lived in Knox County, described the situation in letters to his son Jacob a captain in the Union army:"...Our troubles still increase...It appears the whole Southern confederacy is coming to East Tennessee. We have a team yet, but we look every day to have it taken from us...Starvation is grinning us in the face very hard. We have enough to live on--if we can keep it...The condition of the country is very bad..."
   "...I see no chance for people to live in East Tennessee...The poorer people...are beginning to leave for Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Until the road is soon taken at Chattanooga, more than half of East Tennessee will be on the road to those states in less than four weeks."19
   Another writer describes conditions in Kingston, which is in Roane County, adjoining Anderson County :"Farms had become neglected, full of thickets of thorns, briars, and bushes; fences had fallen to decay. Not a chicken, turkey, cow sheep, or horse remained. All mules had been confiscated, and even a few oxen had been taken. Poverty, wretchedness and ruin were everywhere."20
   Many commodities were practically unobtainable. Salt was so scarce that some people removed the floors of the smoke houses, took up the dirt, and boiled it to get the salt.21
   The struggle for East Tennessee culminated in the Battle of Fort Sanders on November 29, 1863. When first built by the Confederates on the western limits of Knoxville, it was called Fort Loudon. When taken by the Union forces, it was renamed for Brigadier General William Sanders, who was killed earlier in that month.
   Knoxville had been under siege for two weeks, with the Confederates under Longstreet attempting to take the fort commanded by Burnside. Before dawn on that Sunday morning, the Rebels attempted to storm the fort. Within twenty minutes, they fell back in confusion. Knoxville was in Union hands, for which President Lincoln sent a commendation to General Burnside.22 No more important fighting took place in upper East Tennessee, but the people were so impoverished that relief funds were sought in the North.23
   When Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, ending the war, East Tennessee was left in desperate straits. Years later, a child asked his Knox County grandfather who won the war. He replied, "It don't make much difference who won the whole war--in East Tennessee, everybody lost!"24

A Final Move                                                                                                                                                                                                           Top
   Surely the Samuel Seiber family lost heavily. Exactly when they moved from their home in Frost Bottom to Knox County, I have been unable to discover. It was before December of 1867, for in that month Samuel, Elizabeth, and Massey moved their membership by letter to Ball Camp Baptist Church.
   The move may have come because they could no longer exist on the impoverished land. But it may have been because of the fear of bushwhackers and the prevailing lawlessness. Too, they may have feared reprisals as the family of a Confederate soldier. Thomas Alexander writes that ex-Confederates were badly treated, their lives threatened, and that one was lynched in Knoxville.25
   Imagine what a traumatic experience it must have been for a seventy-five-year-old man to leave the home he had loved for sixty years!

A summer day, possibly in 1865
   Sam sat beside Poplar Creek on the big rock where he had proposed to Isabel so long age. How happy they had been! Now, he felt broken in body and spirit.
   He felt stiff in every joint, his eyesight and hearing were failing, and he had no energy or desire to do anything.
   His beloved farm was ruined. Weeds and briars covered the fields. The barn and the house were falling down. The armies had taken most of his livestock and almost every thing else he owned.
   Three of his sons were dead, and Fred was missing. Although Elizabeth insisted that he was alive and would come back any day, he had little hope. If he should return, his life would be in danger. Nancy and Thomas had taken their children and headed for Illinois. John was still nearby, but with his seven girls and his Sunday preaching, he was not much help.
   Still he had Elizabeth, four grown daughters, and young Ben to care for. He felt like Job. Was God testing him? No, he could not, would not give up. Abraham moved from Haran when he was seventy-five; so why couldn't he move, too? Maybe if we got close to Knoxville, he said to himself, the girls could find work in the city folks' homes. They could cook or take care of the children. The girls aren't really safe here, with so many bushwhackers roaming around.
   But if we leave, and Fred should come back, how would he find us? Well, he'd go to John, and John would tell him where we are. John is my key. I'll get him to ride with me down toward the city. Henry tells me there are dozens of deserted cabins in Knox County, so many folks have left for the West. First thing in the morning, I'll go over to John's. He'll help me, I know.

   So the family moved. The nearest church to their new home was Ball Camp Baptist, which they joined. Let us imagine how that happened.

Fall of 1867....
   The family had settled into their new home and were gradually becoming adjusted. One day Sam had taken some corn to the mill to be ground. Here he met a friendly man by the name of John Byrd. As they talked, they discovered that they both were Baptists. John told Sam that there was going to be a camp meeting the following week at Ball Camp Church. "You and your family would be welcome. There's bound to be some fine singing and preaching. Plenty of excitement, too, if Sister Abby's there. She's the most shoutin'est woman in Tennessee!"
   "I'll tell my women-folks. Guess it's about time we got into church again. I'm proud you told me about it, Brother."
   When Sam got home, he shared the news.
   "I'd sure like to go," Elizabeth said. "I've missed goin'  to meetin's since we left Frost Bottom. Why don't we cook up a heap o' vittles and camp for a day or two?"
   "But Ma, what'll we wear?" Annalisa asked. "We got nothin' but rags!"
   "Oh, don't be so proud, Sister!" Massey said. "Folks will be so excited, they'll never notice our clothes. I can't wait to get there, myself!"
   The girls pitched in and helped their mother cook for the trip. The next week, they loaded up the wagon and set out. They had such a good time that they decided to join that church.....

   In attempting to trace the family, I wrote to the clerk of Ball Camp Church. She wrote to me as follows:
 "....[In] December 1867 this church received by letter Samuel Seiber, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Massey Seiber. September 1869 eleven members of Ball Camp Baptist Church requested their letters from the church for the purpose of organizing a new church at Valley Grove on Ball Camp Pike. John Byrd, Ellen Byrd, Adam Hodge, Mary Hodge, Jesse Hodge, Charlotte McClain, Samuel Seiber, Elizabeth Seiber, M.L. Seiber, Rachel Smith."
   Why did not Betty, Annalisa, Lindy, and Ben join? That we do not know. And why did the group decide to start a new church, several miles west of Ball Camp? Is it not typical of pioneer people to start a new church in their own community? The decision may have come about like this:

September 1869
   Ben and the girls came in from the garden, where they had cut the last okra, pulled all the tomatoes from the vines, and picked bushels of peas.
   "We're hot and tired, Ma," said Betty. "But we'd best get busy and can this stuff. Mustn't let it go to waste."
   "I never thought we'd have another garden like the ones we had in Frost Bottom," her mother replied. "Now look at this--as good as we've ever had. These peas can't be beat."
   "We can thank the good Lord," said Sam. "He's helped us through this move. I hated to leave, but I'm beginnig' to like this place."
   "I think that belongin' to a good church like Ball Camp has helped us more than anything else to feel at home here," Elizabeth replied.
   "Speakin' of the church," said Massey, "here comes Brother Hodge. And looks like somebody else, too. Yeah, that's Brother Byrd a-ridin' up behind him. Lawsy-mercy, I look like a ha'nt! And no place to hide!"
   "Don't matter," said Betty. "You jis' keep a-shellin' them peas!"
   Sam stood and waved. "Come on up and set on this porch for a spell. Have chairs, Brothers."
   The two men removed their straw hats, fanning their sweaty faces. "Shore hot, today....Howdy, Miz Seiber, and young ladies. Howdy, Ben.  Don't let us stop you-uns from your work. We want to talk to you folks about helpin' us to start a new church down here closer to home. More people are movin' in around here all the time. It's so far to go up to Ball Camp. Our two families and Mis McClain and Mis Smith wish you'd come with us. Brother Sam, we need you."
   "Now you don't need any old beat-up feller like me. Why, I'm nearly eighty years old and gettin' so bunged up I can't hardly walk, some days. Now my wife and Massey here, they might help. They're purty good singers."
   "Sam, we need your wisdom. Nothin's wrong with your head. Folks respect you."
   "I appreciate your kindness. We'll think about it and let you know."
   "You pray about it, Brother. We're goin' to count on you to guide us."
   "Do you-all need any tomatoes or peas? We'd sure like to give you some," Elizabeth said.
   "No, we've got more'n we know what to do with, but thank you."
   "Before you go, let me ask you a question," Elizabeth said. "Brother John, where would we meet?"
   "At first, at our house. Ellen's agreed to that. And she told me to ask you to come to see her soon. Now that our children have married, she gets lonesome."
   After the visitors had left, the family sat silent, watching the riders till they were out of sight.
   "What do you think of that?" Sam asked.
   "I'd rather go to Ball Camp, even if it is a long way," said Massey.
   "You just want to see if you can find a man," Betty said.
   "That's not so! I like the singin'."
   "You can join any church you like, but I'm not joinin' no Baptist!" Annalisa declared. "I ain't lettin' no preacher drown me!"
   "Me neither," Lindy chimed in.
   "I think we should join with our neighbors," Sam said. "We can get other people when they move in near us. All of you childen are grown, and can decide for yourselves. But your mother and I will go with the Byrds and Hodges."
   "Then I'll go with you, Pa, " said Massey. "They'll need some singers. Maybe they'll even let me lead the singin' sometimes."
   "Massey ain't so dumb," Betty remarked. "She knows it's a fur piece to walk to Ball Camp."
   "Wonder who'll do the preachin', Pa?" Ben asked. Reckon they might send for John?"
   "I think Brother Adam's boy is a preacher. Maybe he'll come."
   "I hope he won't preach as long as that brother at the last camp meetin'. He preached for three hours without lettin' up for breath. Jist ain't much sense in preachin' a body to sleep!" declared Lindy.
   On the next Sunday, the eleven members requested their church letters from the Ball Camp Church, which granted them with good wishes for the new venture at Valley Grove.
   "We're followin' the example of the early churches we read about in Acts," Sam told Elizabeth as they made their way back home. "They spread the word. When new neighbors move in, we can go to them and invite them to worship with us. I'm glad we're startin' somethin' for the Lord."

Sam's Death                                                                                                                                                                                                     Top

October, 1871
   Autumn in all its beauty came to East Tennessee. Sam scuffed the fallen leaves along the path to the barn, bent occasionally to pick up a bright red one and admire it.
   "I'm like one of these," he muttered. "My life is going out of me. Every day, I feel weaker. I don't see how I'll make it till Christmas."
   How he would love to go back once more to Frost Bottom! If he could only sit on his big rock by the creek and think, maybe he could figure out what to do. His family--what would become of them after he was gone? It was impossible to get back to his favorite spot. He would just go to the barn and sit there and pray.
   When he got to the barn door, he heard the sound of a woman weeping. Seated on a bale of hay, her head in her hands, was Annalisa. Quietly Sam walked up beside her and placed his hand on her shoulder.
   "What's wrong, Daughter?"
   Annalisa grabbed him around the waist. "Oh, Pa, it's so hopeless! All I've ever wanted in life was to find a good man, get married, and raise a family. But there's just no men left! What few that got back from the war were already married, or had a sweetheart waiting for them. Else they're so crippled up, they won't take on the responsibility of a wife. Particularly if their brother was on the rebel side. This is Union country all the way. Me nor Betty nor Massey nor Lindy--none of us can hope to marry. What's going to become of us?"
   Sam sat down beside her.
   "It appears to me, Annie-girl, you're a-lookin' on the dark side. Plenty of young women your age would be glad to swap places with you. What if you was a widow with half a dozen kids to raise? You've got your health and a family that loves you.
   "You can't let yourself dwell on what might have been, or what you wish could be. Face what is. The Lord never puts on us more than we can bear.
   "Now why don't you get up from here, get into the house, and make me some of that good corn bread for supper? I'm hungry--and you're the best cook on the place, you know."
   "Pa, you're right. You can always make me feel better. I love you, Pa. You can bet I'll make you a skilletful of the best corn bread you ever put inside of your mouth."
   The young woman stood up, straightened up, and set out for the house.
   Sam watched her and thought, How could I tell her that I was really talking to myself. I've got to face whatever comes, and trust the Lord to take care of my family after I am laid to rest.
   The next day, he called Ben aside.
   "Ben, I don't want to alarm your Ma or the girls, but I am not well--not well atall. I don't believe I'm much longer for this world. I'm eighty-one years old and tired of the struggle.
   "I've seen lots of trouble--one loss after another, looks like. First I lost my brother when we went off to war against England. Then my first wife, beautiful Isabel, was struck by lightnin'--died instantly. And her little baby-we tried, but we couldn't keep it alive. I lost two boys in one horrible summer--both of 'em twins. All of this happened before you were born.
   "I don't see how you stood it, Pa," Ben said.
   "If it hadn't a-been for the Lord, I wouldn't have made it. He lent me the strength when I had to have it.
   "Then these last ten years--they've been one thing after the other. Pip's murder, in cold blood right on his doorstep--I can't even think about it. And Fred--what happened to our Fred? Oh, your Ma still looks for him to come back. I don't. He's somewhere in an unmarked grave, dead in one of the worst wars that's ever been. That war ran us out of the home we loved, once the prettiest valley anywhere. I've survived--and I will until the Lord calls for me. I think it's goin' to be soon.
   "Son, I have to leave it to you. Somehow, you must take care of your mother and your sisters. Just have faith. The Lord will see you through."
   "I'll do my best, Pa. I promise you I'll see that they don't go hungry. You've stuck by us. I'll try to be the man you've been."

   Sam died on December 20, 1871. Ben cared for his mother and the four sisters, outliving them all. Massey died on January 10, 1876, and Elizabeth the following May 6.
   After Ben married my grandmother, Mary Ann Lones, on September 12, 1880, he continued to care for the three sisters. Annalisa died on April 7, 1897;  Lindy, on May 1, 1920;  and Betty, on May 21, 1929.
   Ben and Mary had six children: Nora, Charles, Edward, Elizabeth, Mary Pauline [my mother], and Delia Kate. My grandmother died on May 12, 1915, one month after I was born, and my grandfather, on April 11, 1938. None of them were famous nor wealthy, but they were honest, hard-working, God-fearing people--salt-of-the-earth characters that their descendants can remember with fondness and pride.

Footnotes:                                                                                                                                                                                              Top
1 Hoskins, Katherine, Anderson County, Tennessee County History Series; Memphis State University Press, p. 7.
2See Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia, vols. 7 and 15. Also Irving Stone, The President's Lady, Doubleday and Company, 1951. Many details of battle from this source.
4Hoskins, p. 34.
5Wilma Dykeman, Tennessee, Graphic Arts, 1979, pp.122-3.
6Dykeman, pp. 122-3.
7Recorde in Marriages of Anderson County, Tennessee, 1838-1858, compiled by Whitley.
8Recorded in the compilation of marriages by Whitley referred to on p. 36.
9Hoskins, Anderson County, p. 27.
10Sophie and Paul Crane, Tennessee Taproots, p.1.
11From J.J. Burnett, Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers, Vol. I, Marshall-Bruce Company, Nashville, 1919. pp. 470-2.
12From a letter written by Jessie Mae to me.
13Digby Seymour, Divided Loyalties, University of Tennessee Press, 1963, p. 54.
14James Welsh Patton, Unionism and Reconstruction in Tennessee, University of North Carolina Press, 1934, p. 21.
15Ibid., p. 67.
16Seymour writes that Brazelton's Battalion consisted of seven companies of men from Knox County. It merged with the First Tennessee Infantry, and its Company E took part in the siege of Knoxville. p. 54.
17Seymour, p.7.
18Ibid., p. 10.
19Quoted by Katherine Davis Moore in Sing Remembrance, published in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1984. She is my third cousin.
20Moore, p.6.
21Fremont Worth, The Development of America, American Book Company, 1937, p. 400.
22Seymour, p. 12.
23Seymour, p. 17.
24Betsey Beeler Creekmore, Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press, 1958, p. 112.
25"Neither Peace Nor War: Conditions in East Tennessee in 1865," East Tennessee Historical Society, #23.