tennessee

My niece, Cassie Iverson is a patient, loving mother of two beautiful children 6 year old Lucas, and 2 year old Zoey. She loves to go camping with the family, and they go as often as they can, because Cassie is a photographer, and is drawn to the beautiful side of life. Much of her photography is of nature, which appeals to me very much, as a nature lover too. Good photography requires an eye for staging. It’s strange to thing of staging the shot for nature, but things like what is centered, how much to zoom, and good lighting are vital to taking a great picture. Cassie has that eye for staging, and so her pictures come of beautiful and they draw you into the scene.

She takes pictures of her children and of other people too, and she has a great eye for staging those photos too, but her real love for photography lies in photographing nature. It makes perfect sense, since she loves to be camping more than living in town. She and her husband, Chris like to fish and camp out with the kids…showing them all the beauty that nature has to offer. While she loves photography, Cassie’s kids really are her whole heart.

Her son, Lucas has had some medical issues over the past few years and so now the family is looking to move to a bigger city where the necessary medical facilities are available. They have looked in Montana, Colorado, and Tennessee. At this point, it looks like Tennessee might be the best place for them, so they are hoping to move sometime this summer. I know that many people in the family would rather have them in Montana or Colorado, but that may not be feasible. Time will tell I guess, and we will have to see where they land. Of course, if they move to Tennessee, we will all miss them, but thankfully Facebook can keep us in the loop with their lives. The most important thing for the family is to be near enough to good medical care for Lucas, so they don’t have to travel every time he needs surgery or other treatments. One thing that is for sure, this move, no matter where it takes them, will open up a whole new world of photography vistas for Cassie. I can’t wait to see the pictures she will take now. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Recently, I found out that my family is related to Alvin Cullum York, who was one of the most decorated United States Army soldiers of World War I. York is my 8th cousin once removed on my dad’s side of the family. York received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 35 machine guns, killing at least 25 enemy soldiers, and capturing 132. York’s Medal of Honor action occurred during the portion of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, which was led by the United States, and was intended to breach the Hindenburg line and force the Germans to surrender.

York was born in rural Tennessee on December 13, 1887, the third of eleven children of William and Mary (Brooks) York. His parents farmed, and his father worked as a blacksmith. The York children had minimal schooling because they helped provide for the family, which included hunting, fishing, and hiring out as laborers. After the death of York’s father, he assisted in caring for his younger siblings, and found work as a logger and on construction crews. York wen to church on a regular basis, but he also drank heavily and had a reputation for fistfighting. In 1914 he had a conversion experience, and vowed to improve. He became even more devoted to the Church of Christ in Christian Union.

Upon being drafted into World War I, York initially claimed conscientious objector status on the grounds that his denomination forbade violence. It was because of his internal struggle about whether or not war was the same as murder. York prayed about it for the better part of a whole night, before feeling led to proceed with his military assignment. York joined the 82nd Division as an infantry private, and went to France in 1918. He was a part of the group of soldiers know as dough boys. In October 1918, York was promoted to corporal, as one of a group of 17 soldiers assigned to infiltrate German lines and silence a machine gun position. After the American patrol had captured a large group of enemy soldiers, German small arms fire killed six Americans and wounded three. York was the highest ranking of those still able to fight, so he took charge. While his men guarded the prisoners, York attacked the machine gun position, dispatching several German soldiers with his rifle. By the time six Germans charged him with bayonets he was out of rifle ammunition, so he drew his pistol and shot them all. The German officer responsible for the machine gun position had emptied his pistol while firing at York, but missed. This officer then offered to surrender, and York accepted. York and his men marched back to their unit’s command post with more than 130 prisoners. York was immediately promoted to sergeant, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. After further investigation the award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. York became a national hero and international celebrity. He also received decorations from several foreign countries, including France, Italy, and Montenegro.

To reward their hero, some businessmen in Tennessee organized the purchase of a farm for York, his new wife, and their growing family. York later formed a charitable foundation to improve educational opportunities for children in rural Tennessee, as a way of giving back o his home state. In the 1930s and 1940s, York worked as a project superintendent for the Civilian Conservation Corps and managed construction of the Byrd Lake reservoir at Cumberland Mountain State Park, after which he served for several years as park superintendent. In his later years, York was confined to bed by health problems. He died in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964 and was buried at Wolf River Cemetery in his hometown of Pall Mall.

For my nephew, Chris Iverson and my niece, Cassie Iverson, life has not always been easy. The birth of their oldest child, Lucas, born with Down’s Syndrome brought the beginning of a host of future medical bills, but anyone who knows Lucas can tell you that he is just the sweetest boy. His parents and family wouldn’t trade him for the world. Nor would his little sister, Zoey, who loves him to pieces, and inspires him to progress. Chris homeschools the kids, and lately he has been trying to incorporate some extra work with Lucas, because he is, of course behind other children his age, but he has the added handicap of ongoing medical treatments that have plagued him for a while now. Zoey is two and a half now, so she is at just the right age for starting pre-school, so Chris is starting with her ABCs now.

In his spare time…when he can’t go fishing much…Chris is into video games, especially the online gaming. The competition makes it much more fun than just going against the computer. Right now he is into Horizon Zero Dawn. Now, I can’t begin to tell you what these games are all about, but I would assume some kind of fighting game. Chris has also been training the family dogs, He wants to get them well behaved before too much longer, since they are already no longer puppies. Life for the Iverson family has had its ups, and its downs, but now there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, it too will come with its share of sadness.

Chris and Cassie are currently planning a move to Tennessee. It’s not that they don’t love Powell, Wyoming, because they do. Powell has been their home for many years, if not all their lives, but with the medical needs of their son, and the opportunity for both of them to get an education and improve their lifestyle, they need to be in a more populated area that has more to offer their special needs son. They have looked elsewhere, but there is nothing out there that is in Wyoming or even the surrounding states, so the move was inevitable. I know that their whole family will really miss them. It is always sad when your kids move away, but if it is the best thing for them, you have to simply let them go. I know that with Facebook, Skype, texting, and phone calls, they can stay close, and visits to Tennessee wouldn’t be the worst thing either. As for education, Chris plans to go to trade school to become a Plumber, and Cassie is planning to become a Real Estate agent…both occupations that will pay well, and provide for their family. While we will miss them, we also wish them the very best. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

james_k_polkI was looking at a fact site last night, and found a list of unusual facts about the presidents of the United States. While the facts about each president were everything from strange, to bizarre, to amazing, I found myself drawn to what I read about James K Polk, who happens to be the 2nd cousin 1x removed of the husband of my 5th cousin 2x removed. That sounds very confusing to people, and I can say that it is confusing to me too. Nevertheless, my family and my husband, Bob’s family trees are intertwined, and that is a fact I have known for a while now. James Polk is just another in the line of people we are both connected to. Those are the facts I knew about James K Polk…as well as, the fact that his middle name is Knox and that is how he is related to Bob’s side of our family. My own connection comes from the Allen side of my dad’s family…and that I did not know before.

James K Polk was the first president to be elected under the age of 50, and the youngest to die, with the exception of Garfield and Kennedy, both of whom were assassinated. Polk had surgery at the age of 17, to remove stones from his bladder. This was before anesthesia was invented, so he was awake for the entire polk-inaugurationprocedure. I can’t imagine how painful that must have been. Polk is the only Speaker of the US House of Representatives to become President of the United States. His years as president were active ones. They saw three states added to the nation, the first Women’s Rights Convention was held, the sewing machine, gas lighting, and the rotary printing press were invented, and the Gold Rush began. Polk was a highly motivated president, and it is believed that he worked so hard while serving as president that he weakened himself, causing his death shortly after leaving office.

Polk had just two years of formal schooling prior to entering the University of North Carolina as a sophomore. He was a member of a debating society in college, and he found that he had an interest in law and government. Polk graduated with top honors in mathematics and the classics. Then he returned home to Tennessee to become a lawyer. To receive legal training, he worked in the office of Nashville trial attorney, Felix Grundy and then served as clerk of the Tennessee Senate. Polk was diligent and ambitious, and soon james_k_polk_and_sarah_c_polkestablished a law practice in Columbia, Tennessee. At 27 years of age, Polk’s interests turned to politics, and he defeated an incumbent for a seat in the Tennessee Legislature. During his time as state representative, he met and eventually married Sarah Childress, who was the very intelligent daughter of a Murfreesboro merchant. She was well educated and her social grace impressed their peers. She became her husband’s personal and political confidant, it was her involvement in his campaigns that helped to ensure his victories. Fervently supporting the policies of fellow Tennessee Democrat Andrew Jackson, Polk was elected to the United States Congress at 29. His Congressional career lasted 14 years and included two terms as Speaker of the House. He must have been well liked to then go on the become President of the United States as well.

Congress in 1874The Nation of FranklinHave you heard of the nation of Frankland…or maybe the nation of Franklin? I hadn’t either, but it was a real place. Early in the history of the United States, its people operated on somewhat limited trust of the government…probably due to the treatment they received in England. In April of 1784, the state of North Carolina ceded its western land claims between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River to the United States Congress. The settlers who lived in that area, known as the Cumberland River Valley, had already formed their own government from 1772 to 1777, and their distrust of Congress led the to worry that the area might be sold to Spain or France to pay off war debts owed them by the government. Due to their concerns, North Carolina retracted its cession and started to organize an administration for the territory.

At the same time, representatives from Washington, Sullivan, Spencer (modern-day Hawkins) and Greene ben-franklin-portrait-national-portrait-gallery-smithsonian-museum-washington-dccounties declared their independence from North Carolina. Then, in May, they petitioned the United States Congress for statehood as Frankland. The simple majority favored the petition, but Congress could not get the two thirds majority to pass it…not even when the people decided to change the name to Franklin, in the hope of winning favor with Benjamin Franklin and some of the others.

When the petition failed to pass, the people in the area grew angry, and decided to defy Congress. On this day, August 23, 1784, they ceded from the union and functioned as the Free Republic of Franklin (Frankland) for four years. During that time, they had their own constitution, Indian treaties and legislated system of barter in lieu of currency. Two years into the Free Republic of Franklin’s history, North Carolina set up their own parallel government in the area. The economy was weak, and never really gained ground, so the governor, John Sevier approached the Spanish for aid. That move brought a feeling of terror in the government of North Carolina, and they arrested Sevier. The situation worsened when the Cherokee, Chickamauga and Chickasaw began to attack settlements within Franklin’s borders in 1788. Franklin quickly rejoined North Carolina to gain its militia’s protection from attack.

It was a short life for the little nation of Franklin, and eventually they wouldn’t even belong to North Carolina, but rather became a part of the state of Tennessee. It just goes to show that the growing pains of a nation can Tennessee with Franklintake on many forms to reach their destiny as a whole nation. Some changes are good ones, and continue on into the future, and others are not so good, and are sometimes absorbed into the fabric of history and time, and end up looking nothing like the change they started out to be.

20100623_31_editedWhile little is known about his mother, Susan Francis Spencer Cheshire, my husband, Bob’s second great grand uncle, James Riley Cheshire was a rather well known man…at least in Jefferson County, Tennessee. As a young man of only 14 years, he vividly remembers some of the tragedies of the Civil War, of which his family was not a part, but because of where they lived, they were suspected of being a part of the rebel sympathizers. The old Baker place was where they lived, and the Bakers were hated by the Union soldiers for their loyalty to the Rebel cause. The family had moved there when Mr Baker decided to move to a place that was closer to his son-in-law’s place. So, the Cheshires into it because it was a bigger, very nice log home.

Soon after moving there, James recalls the day when he saw one of the Baker boys and Mr Richie, a brother-in-law, shot by the Union Soldiers. The bodies were taken to the Cheshire house to be prepared for burial. As they were getting ready to place them in their coffins, Union soldiers showed up and searched the house again, but they didn’t do anything to the bodies. James saw the soldiers march old man Baker into the woods, and heard the three shots they fired into him. After they left, James and his five year old sister, Louise Cheshire ran out to the woods and spend several hours guarding him so that the hogs didn’t get his body before the coffin maker could help move him. The Bakers had been so hated by the Kingston Militia that it was decided that their house would be burned. They ordered the Cheshires to get all of their goods out and burned the house down. There were many harrowing experiences that James recalls from the Civil War days, and maybe it was all the death he saw then that prompted him to begin carpentry work, including coffin making. He was the first person in the county to make a flat top coffin. I can’t say why the flat top coffin was so important, but apparently it was the latest thing. The people really liked them, and they had a hard time keeping them in stock. James was always considered a wise man. He felt very strongly that evey town needed a church. He joined the Cottage Grove Sarah Cheshire KnoxBaptist Church in 1871, and he helped organize the Baptist Church of Cowgill in 1888. He was made deacon of the church in 1893. He also worked in banking, and became a judge at one time.

My main interest in James comes from the fact that he is related to both sides of my family. His dad is an ancestor of the Knox side of Bob’s family, and his mother is a Spencer, and related to my dad’s side of my family. Unfortunately there seem to be no pictures of James…a fact that I find very sad indeed. Nevertheless, he is a connector to both my families, and was a very well known and respected man who went through so pretty awful things as a young man, and handled them quite well in my opinion. And he was the brother of Bob’s grandmother, Sarah Cheshire Knox.

Dr Nicholas C KnoxWhen I first read about the six Knox brothers who were able to place themselves into a family history where they belonged, but in which no one had been able to connect them to before, I was intrigued, for sure. They seemed so resourceful, but I had a feeling that there was a lot more to them than just finding their place in the family history. I’m sure I will come back to these brothers over and over in the future, but when I read about Dr Nicholas C Knox, I was…well, amazed really. This man had the character and fortitude to overcome adversity, and move forward with his life, and in the end, make it better.

The fourth son of Absalom Knox MD, Nicholas married Henrietta Craigan. After their marriage, the civil war slammed its way into the midst of their lives. Nicholas enlisted in the Seventeenth Mississippi Regiment, which was commanded by Colonel WS Featherstone, and was a part of McLaw’s Division. Nicholas took part in all the great battles in the Army of Virginia in which his command was engaged, but it was the Battle of Gettysburg that would change his life forever. On the second day of the battle, Nicholas lost his right arm. To make matter worse, he was captured and confined as a prisoner on Hart Island, off the city of New York, for several months before being parolled and sent into the Confederate lines again…without his right arm, and he managed to stay alive during the remainder of the battles he fought in.

During his entire enlistment time in the Civil War, Nicholas was never home…until the day he was discharged. I don’t know if he had been able to tell his wife about his arm, but even if he did, there is nothing like actually seeing it for the first time. It had to be hard for her…and for him. Many soldiers coming home from wars with life changing injuries feel very concerned about just how their spouse will look at them now. They feel like they are a lesser person than they were when they left, and that is just the physical challenges. I’m sure that an injury that cost you your arm, would be a moment that would live in your memory files for the rest of your life.

Nevertheless, Nicholas was not a man to let adversity take his life or his future from him. He returned to Mississippi, and he started the task of rebuilding his life, and getting reacquainted with his family. He started out by teaching school. Now most people would think that was a noble profession, and they would be right, but The Battle of Gettysburgit was not enough for Nicholas. While teaching school, he began to study medicine, and received a diploma from a medical college at Nashville, Tennessee. When I think about the challenges of being a doctor in post Civil War America, with only one arm, and during a time when prosthetics were primitive at best, I am amazed. Still, Nicholas was not satisfied. He entered politics, and represented his county in the Legislature, and afterward was a practitioner of medicine in Reynolds, Mississippi, and he was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. No matter what challenges hit Nicholas, he met them head on, and succeeded in every endeavor he took on. He was not a man content to settle on the ordinary. He was truly an amazing man.

View from Lookout MountainSeven StatesOn a trip to Tennessee and the surrounding area in April of 2003, Bob and I had the opportunity to visit Lookout Mountain, which is located near Chattanooga, in southwestern Tennessee. The drive up was stunning, and everything we saw there from Ruby Falls, to the Incline Railway, and Rock City proved to hold amazing views as well. From the top of the mountain, you can see seven states…Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama. The view across that area is spectacular. When we travel, we love to go sight seeing, so this area fit right into our idea of a great place to visit. looking back now, I’m sure that time constraints played a part in my missing out on some of the amazing historical value of the area I was visiting, and to me, that is really a shame, because so much took place there, and I didn’t even know it.

I suppose I should have known the history of the area, but apparently I wasn’t as up on my Civil War and Indian history as I am now. I really wish I had known or had at least taken more time reading the many signs in the area, because I could have figured out what a great area we were in. During the Nickajack Expedition which occurred in the 18th century, Lookout Mountain would become a last stand for the Chickamauga Cherokee, who were followers of Chief Dragging Canoe, who opposed the peace treaty between Native Americans and the American settlers. The peace treaty was signed in 1777. Most of the Chickamauga Cherokee agreed to the treaty, but a small band followed Chief Dragging Canoe, and they went to battle in the late summer through the fall of 1794. The final battle, and the point that Chief Dragging Canoe’s warriors would lose the fight took place on Lookout Mountain. The Indians were no match for the military might of the army, and after wounding only 3 of the militia, the villages of Nickajack Town and Running Water Town were destroyed, leaving seventy Cherokee dead.

The Civil War battle that made Lookout mountain famous took place on November 24, 1863 and was a part of the Chattanooga Campaign. Major General Joseph Hooker defeated the Confederate forces who were under the command of Major General Carter Stevenson. Lookout mountain has an excellent view of the Tennessee River, making it a perfect stronghold. It also held a perfect view of the Union supply lines, so if the Confederate army wanted to starve out the Union army, they needed Lookout Mountain, and if the Union army wanted to keep their supply lines clear, they needed Lookout Mountain. One of the hardest places to fight a battle is a mountain…at least for the side who is at the bottom of the mountain. They are far too visible to fight the battle easily. So, after calling for reinforcements, Major General Joseph Hooker went into battle. It was a must win situation. If they lost the Union soldiers would be starved into surrender.

Looking back now on our visit makes everything we saw seem much more interesting. In my memory files, I can pull out the different views of our visit to Lookout Mountain, and I can visualize the exact view the Confederate soldiers had, and knowing that there was virtually no place to hide, I can’t help but wonder how the Union soldiers managed to win that battle. I suppose that it was partly the numbers of soldiers, with Incline Railroad????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????the Union having more than 1,000 more, but more importantly, I think it was the fact that they surrounded the Confederate soldiers, leaving them with too many sides to cover. Our trip to Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, and Rock City has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I wish I had known it then. I would have really enjoyed that stroll through history. The great thing is that my pictures, memories, and a little look at history can take me back to visit again.

Years ago…September of 1976 to be exact, Bob and I went to Yakima, Washington to visit his great grandmother. While we were there, Great Grandma showed me a copy of a family tree, in the form of a real tree. As we looked it over, I noticed that Bob’s great great great grandmother’s last name was Spencer..the same as my maiden name. Susan Frances Spencer married William Elkins Cheshire on January 31, 1847, and their daughter Sarah Jane Cheshire married Joseph Leonidas Knox on March 4, 1875, and their son Edgar Allen Knox married Nellie Elizabeth DeGood (the grandmother who was showing me the tree) on December 25, 1907, producing Robert Leonidas Knox who married Nettie Landis Noyes, producing Joann Eleanor Knox who married Walter Andrew Schulenberg, producing Robert Walter Schulenberg, who married me on March 1, 1975.

The only clue I have as to what Susan Frances Spencer might have looked like is her daughter Sarah Jane Cheshire Knox, shown here. I know that Susan married William Cheshire, and that her life was rather short. She was born January 30, 1830, in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and died at the age of 46 years, on May 26, 1876 in Caldwell, Missouri…just over 100 years before I would find out about her, and begin a quest to find out more about her, that would span 36 years to date.

The Spencer family, or at least the branch I come from kept extensive, detailed records, so I never dreamed I would have so much trouble locating a Spencer or their ancestors, but with Susan Frances Spencer and her ancestors, that has not been the case. The trail to find out more always seems to turn very cold right at Susan, and I am left with questions. Who was Susan Frances Spencer Cheshire? How did she die? Who were her parents?

Susan married very young. She was only 17 years and 1 day on her wedding day. Hers was a marriage that would only last 29 years, and would produce 10 children between 1847 and 1867. She did not die in child birth, so what happened. Was there some epidemic in Missouri in 1876? It’s possible since there was a Yellow Fever Epidemic in Georgia in 1876, but I can’t find anything saying that it spread to Missouri. Another dead end!!

I have to wonder if I will ever know if she was related to me. I suspect that she was, because most of the Spencer families seem to come from one branch or another of the same set of grandparents back in England. I would also like to know if back in Bob’s family history somewhere, we will find that he too, is related to the current royal family in England.

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