Monday, June 26, 2006


As I am the last of my father's family, my brothers and sisters having all preceded me to the spirit land, I feel that I ought to write up the history of the family, for the benefit of my own children, the children of my dead brothers and sisters, and their numerous offspring.

Many of them have requested me to do this, but I have heretofore shrunk from the task, for it is, indeed, a task at my time of life. The family is a large one now, and scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Gulf to Colorado; I can count up more than two hundred, and there are many that I have never seen nor heard of, a host of young people coming on, and if I can inspire the young to emulate the good deeds of their forefathers, strengthen the faith of the older ones, help and encourage them in the battle of life, I may accomplish some good. Forty years ago, the family were all living within the radius of fifty miles of Memphis, Tenn. But the great change that had come over the South, causing great changes in communities and family circles, had its effects upon this, and we were soon scattered abroad, and without such a history, the young and rising generation who are spreading out over the earth, and obeying the command, "Increase and Multiply," will know little of their blood kin, or less or nothing of the source from whence they sprang.

Some may think this of little importance, but the old adage, "Blood is thicker than water," holds good to-day, and will continue to do so. Blood, good blood, is more prized today than ever before in the history of the world, in stock, in horses, cattle, and man. The American who can trace his family back to a signer of the Declaration of Independence, is truly proud of the fact, and well he may be. I have been told, that in certain portions of our country, in North and South Carolina, it is still a stain, a blot, to belong to, or marry into, a family whose ancestors were Tories in the days of the Revolution. So it is of some importance to know from whence we sprang, something of our ancestors. I had much rather know I was the descendant of a good man than a bad man.

Another reason why I should write this history, is, that I know some facts and the early history of my father and grandfather that no one else now remembers, and which I believe ought to be on record for the benefit of the young, rising generation of the family, for their study and emulation.

The family is remarkable in several respects. First, very few had the advantage of a college education, yet, I never met one who did not have a plausible academic education, and was qualified for any ordinary vocation in life. Second, I never knew one to be rich; I never heard of one begging bread. I have never seen nor heard of one being arraigned before the courts of the country for any crime or misdemeanor. I never heard of one being sent to the hospital for any capital operation, to the blind or insane asylum, and but one to the State Legislature. I never heard of but one who would get drunk, and he was not a drunkard, or an habitual drinker, but occasionally would take too much, and fall by the wayside, and cause a great deal of sorrow and mortification. The family have always been right on the temperance question. Politically, all were Whigs up to 1860; since that time Democrats. I never knew one to hold office, except as a teacher, director in the public schools, or as an officer in the Church of God. The family have always been farmers, doctors, and educators, and I suppose that surrounding circumstances led them, or induced than to choose one of these equally noble and honorable professions. My grandfather was a physician and surgeon, my father, a teacher and farmer; oldest brother, a physician and surgeon; second brother, teacher and druggist; third brother, teacher, farmer and lawyer, and Greek professor in the High School of this county when he died. The writer commenced as a teacher, but chose medicine as his life profession; oldest sister was a teacher all of her life; the second never taught, but was of a literary turn of mind, and inveterate reader, and took great interest in the education of her children; the third was a fine musician, and taught music in the public schools, and privately all her life; the fourth was also a musician, and taught on the piano and guitar all her life, first in public schools, and latterly her own daughters and the young ladies of her vicinity.

Another striking peculiarity of the family is its deep religious character, not a skeptic or infidel to be found in it a space of a hundred years. And 75 percent of all today over fifteen years of age are church members of strong Calvinistic type, regardless of church affiliations, but not a preacher of the gospel in the list, the strangest thing of all! Had we not better pause for a moment, and enquire, if we are not all preachers. Are not our daily lives sermons, before the world, "Epistles read and known of all men”? One consecrated Christian life in a community is worth volumes of brilliant sermons. How are we preaching? "This "birds-eye" view of the family gives ample food for thought to Christian parents, and they might learn a lesson of value in regard to the early training of the children that are coming on, that would produce a change for the better in the history of the family fifty years hence. The methods in use fifty years ago have changed very much, and are gradually slowly changing as the years pass by, and I fear the result upon the "coming man."

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it," was true in the days of Solomon, was true in the days of our fathers, and will be true to the end of time. "He that spareth the rod spoileth the child," is equally true, but we find the rod is a thing of the past; has been driven from the chamber, the nursery, and even the school room; and it has become a high crime for a teacher to punish a disobedient, gainsaying boy in the old-fashioned, orthodox way, and he must gain some kind of hypnotic influence over his mind, and less control the "bad boy."

Can any one foretell the effect these radical changes are to produce upon the characters of the boys and girls, the men and women of the future?


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