Sunday, November 29, 2009


Jacob Wattenbarger was the son of Michael and Nancy Wattenbarger who settled in a community in northwest McMinn County that would later become known as Chuck-A-Luck. The Wattenbarger farm joined the James Wade homeplace on the north boundary.

In 1849 Jacob traveled a few miles south to Rogers Creek and married Louisa Thomas, daughter of wealthy landowner Jonathan Thomas. Jacob and Louisa acquired property from Jonathan in the vicinity of Rogers Creek Church and built a two-story log house a few hundred feet east of the intersection of current McMinn County Roads 180 and 187.

When the Civil War broke out, Jacob faced a dilemma. Jacob, being from the Tranquility Community, which supported the Union, was living at the very center of Rogers creek, which supported the South. His father-in-law owned several slaves, but Jacob did not believe in slavery.

Jacob eventually chose not to fight for either side and instead hid out in the hills above Rogers Creek and slept in a cave, which was located about 800 feet southeast of his house. The cave has since been known as Wattenbager Cave and has been in our family since the time of the Cherokee.

Jacob died in 1905 and his son James Grant (my grandfather) purchased the 693 acres he owned at an auction held on the McMinn County courthouse steps April 28, 1906. Grant and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Hart Wattenbarger, and their six children lived in their house across the road from the Wattenbarger store.

One day my mother, Maggie Lee Wattenbarger, and two of her sisters, against Lizzie’s instructions, slipped off to explore Wattenbarger Cave. Jacob had in earlier years constructed a wooden door to seal the opening to the cave. The frame holding the door had rotted away and the door was lying just inside the cave opening. Being curious, one of my mother’s sisters lifted up the door to peer underneath.

None of the girls were prepared for what they saw, which was the body of a corpse. Home to mother they flew. Grant eventually determined the corpse had been placed there by a country doctor who was in the process of dissecting it to determine the cause of death of the individual. The cool atmosphere in the cave kept the body from decomposing.


HUSBAND: Jacob Wattenbarger
BORN: 05/05/1826 PLACE: Washington Cty, TN.
MARRIED: 02/22/1849 PLACE: McMinn Cty, TN.
DIED: 10/15/1905 PLACE: McMinn County, TN.
FATHER: Michael Wattenbarger
MOTHER: Nancy Ann Whistler
WIFE: Louisa Thomas
BORN: 07/10/1828 PLACE: McMinn County, TN.
DIED: 03/24/1893 PLACE:McMinn County, TN.
FATHER: Jonathan Thomas
MOTHER; Jane Carmack
Martha Wattenbarger
BORN: 01/29/1850 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Rev. Isaac C Culvahouse 12/14/1873
DIED: 08/29/1930 McMinn County, TN.
Jane Wattenbarger
BORN: 03/01/1851 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: John Arnold 12/27/1877
DIED: 05/01/1915 Rhea County, TN.
Jonathan Wattenbarger
BORN: 06/09/1854 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Texas Ann Lockmiller 08/27/1877
MARRIED: Sarah Texanna Ramey 12/23/1880
DIED: 01/01/1928 Hunt County, TX.
Andrew Jackson Wattenbarger
BORN: 10/20/1856 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Easter Womack 07/17/1881
DIED: 1936 McMinn County, TN.
Mary A Wattenbarger
BORN: 11/22/1859 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: John Franklin Stanton 08/09/1877
DIED: 12/16/1939 McMinn County, TN.
Nancy Wattenbarger
BORN: 11/14/1861 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: M L Thompson DATE: 08/25/1883
DIED: 03/07/1894 Roane County, TN.
Tennessee Wattenbarger
BORN: 01/14/1864 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Joseph T Foster DATE: 08/25/1887
DIED: 07/23/1931 McMinn County, TN.
James Grant Wattenbarger
BORN: 04/17/1866 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Mary Elizabeth Hart 08/19/1894
DIED: 04/29/1955 McMinn County, TN.
Julia Wattenbarger
BORN: 07/11/1868 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Thomas Hunt 10/18/1899
DIED: 08/04/1900 McMinn County, TN.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The following is probably one of the more moving tributes to a member of our family that has ever been published. It was written by Daisy Rice Spradling, and appeared in the Daily Post-Athenian Monday, December 2, 1935, the day after “Uncle Jack” passed away.

Taps were sounded today for John "Uncle Jack" Hart, 94, Confederate veteran who answered to the last roll call Sunday. He passed away peacefully at 1 o'clock Sunday afternoon at his home in the Rogers Creek Community, 10 miles west of Athens. He had been ill several weeks, ascribed to the infirmities of age.

Funeral services, attended by a large number of relatives and friends, were held at the Rogers Creek Baptist Church at 2 o'clock this afternoon. Grandsons were pallbearers.

Burial took place in the family plot in the church cemetery, located on a sloping hillside, overlooking Rogers Creek Valley, where "Uncle Jack" had spent most of nearly a century.

He was born April 16, 1841, a son of the late John Hart, among the earlier settlers of McMinn county. He was married three times. After the death of his first wife,formerly Miss Henrietta Amelia Snyder, who was the mother of his children, he married Miss Martha Ann Ziegler.

Fate decreed he be left again without a mate and in the third step into matrimony, he took as his wife, Mrs. Nancy Elizabeth Dillard Spradling, widow and second wife of Robert Spradling, a close friend and war comrade of Mr. Hart.

Since her death several years ago, he spent part of the time at his home in McMinn county where he was cared for by a son, John Hart, and the remainder of the time with two sons, Will and Charlie Hart and their families in Hamilton county.

When he returned to his old home in McMinn county for the last time, he told his children "I intend to remain here for the remainder of my life."

Children surviving are: Mrs. Will (Rosa) Small, Mrs. J. G. (Lizzie) Wattenbarger, John Hart 3rd., of Rogers Creek, Will Hart of Hixson and Charlie Hart of White Oak, Hamilton county. Four children are dead, Mrs. John (Ernie) Benton, Lewis, Franklin and Jimmy Hart. There are 29 living grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

"Uncle Jack" had no fear of passing into the great beyond and when the final summons came he met his death without a tremor. Since early manhood, he had been a member of the Baptist church, and was regular in attendance when health and weather would permit.

Mr. Hart joined the Confederate army August 19, 1861/ Company A, 29th Regiment Tennessee Volunteers at Loudon, but about the first of November, the same year, he was transferred to another unit, joining the A. W. Hodges Company at Decatur, and was mustered into service by Col. James Gillespie as a member of Company D, 43rd Tennessee Regiment of which Gillespie was Colonel and D. M. Key was Lieutenant-Colonel.

He went through the siege of Vicksburg, and was in several other battles. His regiment did service in several states, all the way from Mobile, Alabama up east to Maryland.

Those terrifying days were depicted by "Uncle Jack" when in a reminiscent mood, as he was interviewed by the writer at his home last spring. As he recited "The Yesterdays" he told of the grim moments of the conflict in which brother fought against brother.

In the quiet of that spring afternoon, as he sat in his old armchair in his room, it was most interesting to listen to the "boy who wore the gray", whose hair had lightened until it was the color of the uniform he wore when Dixie called.

His speech was halted some, but as he lived once more in the long ago, his eyes would light with the spirit, the courage and the fire of the patriotic youth, as tribute was phrased for such officers as Jackson, Early, Vaughn, and Gillespie, under whose leadership he fought.

A striking tribute was paid to Stonewall Jackson he told how, when General Early, in command of Jackson's old Army Corps at that time, marched through the cemetery at Lexington, Va., where the mortal remains of the great leader were buried. It was a solemn scene, Mr. Hart said. No words were spoken as the whole army marched around Jackson's grave with arms reversed as though attending a funeral.

A Southern flag floated over his grave. Federal soldiers had been there a few days previous to this on their way to Lynchburg, he said, and had almost used up the flagpole, cutting chips out of it as mementos, never offering to take the flag down.

Mr. Hart was discharged at Kingston, Ga., May 10, 1865, after serving three years and nine months.

The mother of John Hart III (1841-1935) was the sister of Louisa Spradling, wife of James Wade. Four of the eight children of W. D. and Jane Owen Wade married descendants of Uncle Jack.


BORN: 04/16/1841 PLACE: McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: 12/19/1866
DIED: 12/01/1935 PLACE: McMinn County, TN.
FATHER: John Hart, II
MOTHER: Mary Elizabeth Spradling
WIFE: Henrietta Amelia Snyder
BORN: 02/14/1847 PLACE:
DIED: 06/19/1888 PLACE: McMinn County, TN.
FATHER: Moses Snyder
MOTHER: Phoebe Roddy
Rosa Lee Hart
BORN: 11/03/1867 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: William Harvey Small 12/01/1889
DIED: 06/25/1966 McMinn County, TN.
William Alexander Hart McMinn County, TN.
BORN: 01/01/1870 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Ada Lee Sanders
DIED: 11/19/1956 Hixson, TN.
Theodosia Ernestine Hart
BORN: 01/13/1872 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: John F Benton
DIED: 11/11/1911
Mary Elizabeth Hart
BORN: 02/05/1875 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: James Grant Wattenbarger 08/19/1894
DIED: 12/29/1959 McMinn County, TN.
John Moses Hart
BORN: 07/26/1877 McMinn County, TN.
DIED: 05/04/1956 McMinn County, TN.
James Mortimer Hart
BORN: 12/30/1879 McMinn County, TN.
DIED: 10/23/1883
Lewis Benjamin Hart
BORN: 02/21/1882 McMinn County, TN.
DIED: 10/18/1883 McMinn County, TN.
Charlie G Hart
BORN: 08/12/1884 McMinn County, TN.
MARRIED: Ocea Delra Wade 12/17/1905
DIED: 09/06/1956 Hamilton County, Tenn.
Franklin Roddy Hart
BORN: 07/22/1887 McMinn County, TN.
DIED: 08/16/1887 McMinn County, TN.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


One day in the mid-thirties Blaine “Dude“ Small came galloping down the road that ran in front of our house and rode his horse right up in our yard. “It’s the end of time, the angels are singing”, he yelled.

We went outside and we too could hear the angels singing. The sound was coming from the eastern sky as prophesied, but we could not see anything. In a few minutes the singing stopped and this booming voice proclaimed, “Get Right with God.”

Dude had not been too interested in religion up to that time, but he was ready to change his ways. I don’t remember if Dude was in church the following Sunday or not, but we certainly were.

It was no until later when members of a religious group not known in the area started going from house to house and passing out literature that my parents figured out what was going on.

It was revealed the “intruders” had set up loudspeakers at the top of the ridge on the south side of the church. At that time the hillside behind the old church was clear and in pasture. One could stand at the top of the hill and yell and be heard for some distance in he valley below.

I remember my step grandmother, Gussie Wade, who lived at he top of the hill above us, was frowned upon for accepting the literature that was being passed out. Gussie was somewhat of “free spirit” who had a curiosity about things beyond the ridges that surrounded Rogers Creek.

Gussie lived alone in the big white house after grandpa died and was the best friend a six year old could have.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


On the northwest side of what is now the intersection on McMinn County Roads 180 and 187 at one time stood Papa Wattenbarger’s Store. He sold mostly non-perishable items like flour, meal, salt, soda baking powder, coffee, candy, etc. He also carried a pretty complete line of clothing and some farm supplies. Kerosene was a big seller as all homes were lighted with kerosene or “coal oil” lamps as we called them. Papa Wattenbarger closed the store about 1940 as most people by that time had cars and bought their supplies in Athens. Much of the clothing was still on the shelves when he died in 1955.

Papa Wattenbarger was also the last Postmaster at Fiketon, serving in that capacity from June 21, 1898, to February 28, 1903, when the Postal Service was moved to Athens. The name Fiketon was applied for by Absolom Fike who served as Postmaster from 1885 until my Grandfather Wade was appointed Postmaster February 25, 1892.

View Larger Map

Grandpa Wade then started Rural Route 1 out of Decatur, arranging for the route to pass into McMinn County and by his house. That is the reason we to this day get our mail out of Decatur, even though we live in McMinn County. Aunt Ocea would on some days go with grandpa and drive the buggy. I have grandpa Wade’s mail log and the remains of the large umbrella that covered his buggy.

My most vivid memory of Papa Wattenbarger’s store was a large poster that for a time was nailed to the wall inside above the double entrance doors. The poster portrayed the death of John Dillinger, a notorious gangster of that era. It was a gruesome picture with bullets passing through his body from different directions and blood spurting out the exit wounds. After I saw the picture I would not enter the store again until Papa Wattenbarger finally took the picture down at the insistence of my grandmother.

A covered porch extended along the entire front of the store and parallel to the road. This is where the men of the community gathered and swapped tales. On the south side and between the store and what is now County Road 180 was a covered scalehouse for weighing wagons.

On the Rogers Creek Church homecoming day the store porch became a concession stand. Royal Crown Cola banners were nailed between the supporting posts and formed a continuous separation between the servers and those purchasing candy, drinks and ice cream. The store also served as a voting precinct after some rowdiness occurred in the church where the voting had been done.

The store was torn down after Eliza Thomas bought the property at the estate sale in the 1960’s, thus the property was reconnected to the Jonathan Thomas place.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Aunt Ocea was the third oldest child of W. D. and Jane Owen Wade. She married one of the sons of John Hart III, Confederate War Veteran. The Hart farm joined the Wade farm on the south side and the two houses were less than one mile apart as the crow flies.

Ocea and Charlie had four children, the oldest of which was Paul. Pauline Marquis Hart, who resides in Michigan, provided the following:

Memories of Ocea Delray Wade (Hart) by Alna Pauline Marquis (Hart)

Born December 13, 1885

Married Charlie Gillespie Hart December 19, 1905

I was her first grandchild. She wanted me to be born on her birth date, but I missed it by two days. My son Charles was the first great grandchild.

Every Christmas we would go to her house for dinner along with her two sons and two daughters. In the corner of her four room house was the most beautiful Christmas tree. It was fairy like with a wonderful assortment of ornaments. On Christmas day her greeting was “Christmas Gift” to all that entered her home.

Christmas dinner in 1945 consisted of a 30 pound turkey that was so large she didn’t have a cooking pan big enough to bake it in. So, she cleaned out a baby bath tub to roast the turkey. Her cook stove was a very large cast iron stove.

Her biscuits were hand formed and always came out of the oven white rather than brown, but they were fully cooked. I could never duplicate that.

She lived at 105 Martin Road in North Chattanooga for more than 50 years. Her sister, Corda, lived directly across the road and in their latter years they would tell each other how much they loved one another before retiring for the night.

I used to play hooky from school at her house.

She loved to quilt. She had a quilting frame in her garage. She and Corda spent many hours quilting. I have one of her quilts.

She planted a flower garden for me in her back yard. One of the flowers was a “Japanese Iris”. Seeing that we were at war then, I asked her if I could rename them to “Korean Iris’” she said of course.

We visited her every Mother’s Day. She had a swing on her front porch that I really enjoyed.

We had many conversations and I shared many secrets with her while going up, she never breached the confidence.

She had naturally wavy brown hair and dark brown eyes. She may have looked very stern but was a very happy and joyful person. Her laugh was beautiful and magical.

She passed away on her wedding anniversary, but I can’t remember the year.

Alna Pauline Marquis Hart

Thursday, November 19, 2009


On October 24, 2009, I attended a land sale of over 900 acres of land located in the area of Chuck-A-Luck where our ancestors settled about 1830. The acreage auctioned included all of the former Silas Wade homeplace and part of the Richard Spradling and Michael Wattenbarger homeplaces. The property was open land with no structures and had been used by a paper company for many years to grow pine trees to supply a paper mill.

The paper company sold the property to a land company several years ago when property values were much higher than they are now. The land company had been attempting to divide and resell it to individuals, evidently without much success.

Below is a tract map of the land available, with indicators for both the location of Chuck-A-Luck and where Silas Wade's Homeplace was. (Note: Silas Wade's Homeplace roughly covers Tracts 3 & 4.)

When I left the auction about 2:30 PM all of the seven tracts except one had bids in place ranging from $750.00 to $1,000.00, plus a ten percent buyers premium. The seventh tract was the least desirable of all and most likely received a bid of less than $750.00.

I was not present at the time, but I was told before the close of the auction the seller exercised their right to reject all bids and not one of the above listed tracts was sold.

Below is a satellite image of a smaller area as the tract map above, and with a smaller indicator for where Silas's place was so one can better see the land of the area.

What makes this interesting is the fact that most land being advertised on the open market for sale is listed at much higher than what was bid at he auction. There appears to be a very wide discrepancy between what sellers are asking and what buyers are willing to pay. No doubt the current economic conditions have something to do with this. Might be a good time to come home to Chuck-A-Luck.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Where the "the old homestead" stood 1891- 2009.
(W.D. Wade Homeplace)

At 5:30 AM on the morning of Friday July 3, 2009, Bettye looked out the west kitchen window of our house to see the W. D. Wade homeplace fully engulfed in flames. I immediately called 911 and they were aware of a fire in our area, but could not pinpoint the exact location. Evidently the glow could be seen all the way to Athens.

Being a two-story frame house sitting on top of a hill, the fire was like nothing I had ever seen. I went up later and talked with the fire fighters and they said their experience led hem to believe the fire actually started about 2:00 AM.

The cause of the fire to my knowledge has never been determined. The electrical service had been disconnected several years and someone had dug up and stolen the copper line from the propane tank to the house.

The age of the house can best be determined by a story that has been passed down that dates the house to a time when Ulys Wade was about one year old. It seems the house W. D. and Jane and family had been living in was located where they wanted to build their new house.

The plan was to jack up the old house and roll it across the road on logs. Since this required several days to accomplish, the family was in and out of the house as need be. When the time came to actually start moving the house Jane suddenly remember Ulys was still inside. Ulys was quickly retrieved and the house was moved as had been planed. Ulys was born July 21, 1890, so the new house was probably constructed in 1891.