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.

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