Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The Thomas Family Cemetery is located northeast of Rogers Creek Baptist Church on a hill behind the house built by Jonathan Thomas about 1840. Brick for the house were formed by slaves around the spring that flows from beneath the red clay hillside. The water that flows from the spring comprises a significant part of the headwaters of Rogers Creek.

Fifty-five identifiable graves can be found in the cemetery, four of which have unmarked field headstones. Each represent a father, mother or child which undoubtedly were laid to rest with sadness and sorrow.

The following is a listing of those persons in the order of their passing, starting with Jonathan Thomas in 1864. While the century in which they died has twice changed, the sorrow felt by those left behind is not lessened by generation. It is natural to die and it is natural to grieve. It is with love, respect and honor that we remember.

Name------------------- Born---------- Died

Jonathan Thomas - 07/25/1800 - 01/11/1864
Mary Ann Owen - 02/09/1863 - 02/23/1865
Elizabeth Owen - 08/30/1855 - 02/08/1867
Infant Son of M C Owen - 06/01/1869 - 06/01/1869
Emma E Thomas - 11/22/1872 - 11/20/1873
Mary M Thomas - 06/26/1875 - 10/17/1875
Texas Ann W Cagle - 12/28/1859 - 08/24/1878
James Thomas - 03/23/1859 - 10/04/1879
John Hughes - 10/06/1879 - 10/30/1879
Jane Thomas (86 Years) / / 11/24/1883
Infant Son of W C Hughes - 05/02/1886 - 05/02/1886
Caroline Thomas Owen - 10/19/1830 - 02/19/1889
Marshal C. Owen - 10/13/1833 - 06/30/1892
Louisa Thomas Wattenbarger - 07/10/1828 - 03/24/1893
Frank Thomas - 07/27/1862 - 05/15/1894
Bonnie Mae Wattenbarger - 05/07/1895 - 08/16/1895
Twin Infant Wattenbargers -10/01/1898 - 10/01/1898
Charlie Hughes - 09/15/1892 - 10/09/1898
Henry Creed Wattenbarger - 05/02/1896 - 01/06/1899
Infant Daughter of W C Hughes - 03/17/1900 - 03/17/1900
Harriet Fike - 09/23/1832 - 02/22/1901
Horace Thomas - 10/09/1882 - 11/28/1904
Jacob Wattenbarger - 05/05/1826 - 10/15/1905
Infant Daughter of J Thomas - 10/16/1907 - 02/02/1908
Mary Thomas Lankford - 11/06/1864 - 02/07/1909
Samuel A Brickell - 12/07/1860 - 06/18/1916
Carson D Hughes - 12/26/1913 - 02/10/1922
Alfred C Thomas - 1836 - 1924
Malinda Thomas - 1839 - 1924
Frank Thomas (Not found) 1860 -  1930
James H Thomas - 06/02/1868 - 12/03/1948
Louisa E Brickell - 02/26/1867 - 12/22/1950
James Grant Wattenbarger - 04/17/1866 - 04/29/1955
James Alfred Thomas - 08/04/1909 - 01/01/1957
Sallie Legg Thomas -10/06/1872 - 10/19/1957
Mary E Hart Wattenbarger - 02/05/1875 - 12/29/1959
Fred S Wade - 07/29/1898 - 02/20/1976
Lonna Mae Thomas Bohannon - 08/04/1902 - 04/21/1978
Phyllis Boyd Bohannon - 11/16/1926 - 11/15/1980
Edgar B Bohannon - 10/11/1898 - 04/20/1982
Rev. Murry Conrad Morgan - 05/21/1909 - 12/09/1982
Matthew Daniel McVey - 08/18/1987 - 08/18/1987
Bobbye Runyon Gilbert - 05/29/1935 - 09/16/1989
Maggie Wattenbarger W Morgan - 02/08/1910 - 01/05/1992
Rev. Charles Scott Runyon - 08/24/1905 - 11/04/1994
Eliza Bohannon Thomas - 10/17/1910 - 01/26/2001
Alma Paisley Thomas - 07/21/1928 - 07/12/2008
James Burkett Thomas - 02/03/1929 - 08/05/2009
Edgar B Bohannon, Jr. - 08/12/1924 - 01/19/2011
Dixie Wattenbarger Runyon - 07/14/1913 - 06/16/2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

AUNT DIXIE (1913 - 2012)

A lady bent and drawn with age sits in a wheel chair just inside the door of her granddaughter’s home. When someone enters she asks, “Do you have a car?” If the answer is yes, she then pleads, “Will you take me home?”

The home Aunt Dixie longs for is a place most do not know ever existed. Its location was approximately eight miles northwest of downtown Athens at the intersection of current County Roads 180 and 187. There Dixie’s father, J. G. Wattenbarger, once operated a country store which also served as Fiketon Post Office. Though all traces of the original structures are gone, the location is still designated on some maps as Fiketon.

In 1849 Dixie’s grandfather, Jacob Wattenbarger, traveled a few miles south from his parent’s home in the Tranquility community and married Louisa Thomas, daughter of plantation owner Jonathan Thomas. Jacob and Louisa acquired property from Jonathan in the vicinity of Rogers Creek Baptist Church and built a log house where they reared their family.

When the Civil War broke out, Jacob faced a dilemma. Being from the Tranquility Community, which supported the Union, he was living at the very center of a community which supported the South. Jacob hid out in the hills above his home to elude conscription into the Confederate Army and sometimes slept in a cave that to this day bears his name.

Dixie’s other grandfather was John Hart whose property joined that of her grandfather Jacob. John Hart was a strong southern supporter and fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War, enduring the Siege of Vicksburg and other battles. John Hart and Jacob Wattenbarger were each sincere in their beliefs. Now the two former adversaries lie on opposing hillsides, separated by the community that now only exists in the mind of Aunt Dixie.

Yesterday Dixie Wattenbarger Runyon returned to Fiketon and now lies at rest beside her husband Charlie and daughter Bobbye in the family cemetery overlooking her childhood home. It was a custom in Dixie’s grandfather’s day that one toll of the church bell be sounded for each year the deceased had lived. As Dixie was laid to rest, ninety-eight tolls rang out across the valley.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


 Louisa Spradling

    Louisa Spradling was born to Richard Spradling and Elizabeth (Beaver) Baber in Virginia about 1808. She married James Wade in Albermarle County, Virginia, October 26, 1827. The following year with Louisa’ parents they moved to an area a few miles south of what is now known as Tranquility and settled on approximately three hundred acres south of and adjoining the property of Michael and Nancy Wattenbarger.

    Louisa’s parents settled on several hundred acres adjoining and to the south of the Wade place. The stream that was later to become known as Rogers Creek originated in the Wade spring from which the family got their water.

    Louisa bore five children to James before he died October 29, 1842. The ages of the children ranged from fourteen (William) down to James who was only two years old. There were four boys and one girl who they named Malinda. Malinda was also later known as Linny and eventually Minnie after she moved to Texas.

    Louisa then married Hiram Brandon, a “Minister of the Gospel” September 1, 1845. Hiram’s name is listed as one of those who helped organize Tranquility Methodist Church in 1848. The family appears in the census records of surrounding counties in the following years evidently as Hiram moved when he was called to different churches. The Wade children eventually disappeared from the Brandon census records and were replaced by the five children Louisa bore to Hiram.

    It is believed Hiram died sometime after 1889 and we know from the records  available Louisa died July 14, 1897, at approximately age ninety. We do not know where Louisa was living when she died or where she is buried. In a document dated July 20, 1897, and signed by five Brandon descendants, Louisa’s belongings were assigned to Silas to dispose of and distribute any remaining proceeds, above that required to meet expenses, to the rightful heirs. From this I surmise Louisa was probably living in the Mt. Zion area where other Brandon family members are buried.

    Silas paid his cousin Richard Spradling Jr. $1.00 to “Cry” the sale of Louisa’s belongings that were not divided among the heirs. The sale brought in $39.00. Silas paid James Colens $7.50 for Louisa’s “cofin”. He paid Steve Brandon $1.00 for “feeding the hogs”. He paid A. Wattenbarger $2.97 for “buring close”. He paid E. L. Harmon for 8 days $5.00 doctor bill. He pade out to Steve for “mesh” 50 cents. Total paid out  $17.97.

    Equally of interest is how this information is still with us. Following Silas’ death in 1902 his only living son, W. D. Wade, was appointed the administrator of his estate. W. D. gathered up all of Silas’ papers and notes, placed them in an old cardboard suitcase, and brought them down to his home in Rogers Creek.

    A few years later W. D. and his cousin W. S. Sradling formed a partnership and opened a “country store” out of the W. D.’s former father-in-law Marshal C. Owen’s house which he had purchased from his sister-in-law, Angeline Owen Campell. The attic of the old house was used for storage and that is where Silas’ old cardboard suitcase was placed.

    And there the suitcase remained until 1989 when Bettye and I tore down the old Owen house to make way for the new house. I looked through some of the papers and found Silas’ “Grand Army of the Republic” medal and many documents and records.     Also, there was one picture in the suitcase. Obviously someone who was important to both Silas and his son W. D. The fading tintype picture was of a lady who appears to be about ninety years old. Her face reflects the hardships of her life. Her eyes penetrate ones soul. Could this be Silas’ mother, Louisa Spradling Wade Brandon?

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Grandpa’s old barn is the only original structure left standing on the homeplace. It sits on a small hill behind where the house once sat. But its days are now numbered as much of the metal roof has blown away leaving the wooden lathe and structural members exposed to the elements.

Geraldine has been in the nursing almost ten years and her brothers have all passed on, leaving no one to look after the upkeep of the once proud structure. Vultures can frequently be seen perched along the highest point of the barn, evidently on the lookout for any rodent that might venture out into the open.

The barn was constructed in the 1890’s not long after W D’s father Silas had an identical barn built on his place. Silas’ barn however, has fared much better. When Bowaters Paper Corporation purchased Silas’ place many years ago they began clearing the land to plant pine trees. Any buildings were put up for sale and removal.

Silas’ grandson Roy acquired the old barn and moved it down to his property just north of the intersection of McMinn County Roads 188 and 186. Following Dexter’s ownership the property was sold to a man who has enclosed the barn and it now is one of the better looking buildings in the community.

But back to Granpa’s place and realizing there is now little evidence of his former presence, Alan and I constructed a cover for the old well and carved his name into the cedar boards, W D WADE. I believe Grandpa would be proud.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Jonathan Thomas Dec'd Settlement with Executor

State of Tennessee ] 21st. day of September 1865
                   ] This day E L Miller Executor of the estate of Jonathan Thomas Dec'd came to the Clerk's Office and made Settlement as the law directs, n Will Book G page 86 said Executor is chargeable with, as per Inventory 1157.02
        Amt. rec'd from Harriet and Jane Thomas  $1600.00   
                                                 $2757.02 Vouchers
       One note to David Cleage with Interest   $ 753.30
       One note to David Cleage with Interest   $1743.92
                              Amt brt. forward  $2497.22

       One Account of Allen Butler              $   2.50  
       One  "  "   "  Nat Morrison              $  10.60
       One  "  "   "  Elijah Benton             $   2.00
       One  "  "   "  John Price                $  25.00
       Bal. of Note to Wm. Gowdin               $   3.00
        "   "   "    " A H Crow                 $  60.12
        "  on Judgement to H Brandy             $  10.00
       One Account of Robert Boyd               $  29.35
        "   "  "   " J W Blackwell              $  27.06
       Fees of Office to Clerk                  $  11.15
                                                $  79.02
                     Allowed Extr. 5 pr Cent on $2757.02
                                                $ 137.85
                    Balance due Executor        $  58.83

Jonathan Thomas Dec'd. Inventory and Account of Sales

       Chas. Rufett           1 Rifle Gun                  $   9.50
       James Coffer           1 Cow                        $  20.50
       James Coffer           1 Yoke of Oxin               $  42.00
       James Coffer           1 Bull Ox                    $  23.00
       Jacob Wattenbarger     1 Steer Ox                   $  37.00
       Jane Thomas            4 Yearlings                  $  23.75
       Lewis Stanton          1 Jack Colt                  $  30.00
       A C Thomas             1 Mule Colt                  $  66.00
       Jane Thomas            1 Gray Mare                  $   5.00
       Harriet Thomas         1 Jinney                     $   6.00
       J L Thomas             1 Mule Colt                  $  47.00
       James Thomas           1 Bay Filly                  $  50.00

                                            Carried over   $ 359.75

       Jane Thomas            1 Bay Horse                  $  31.00
       J L Thomas             1 set of Smith Tools         $  50.00
       Jacob Wattenbarger     3 lots of Iron               $  11.00
       M Wattenbarger         1 lot of Iron                $   9.97
       Lewis Stanton          1 lot of Iron                $   5.51
       Nat Morrison           2 lots of Iron               $   5.96
       A C Thomas             2 bars of Iron               $  10.08
       Marshall Owens         1 bar of Iron                $   7.47
       J L Thomas             1 bar of Iron                $   7.47

       R Boyd                 1 bar of Iron                $   6.90
       Jacob Wattenbarger     Woodwork of Wagon            $  20.00
       Jacob Wattenbarger     1 Large Wagon                $  75.00
       Jacob Wattenbarger     Part of Wagon                $   4.00
       A C Thomas             3 Wagon Wheels               $  14.00
       T H Butler             1 Thrashey ???               $ 129.00
       Jacob Wattenbarger     1 Wagon Wheel                $   7.00
       R Boyd                 1 Set of Tyre                $  52.71
       R Faulkney             2 Chains                     $   2.50
       Jacob Wattenbarger     1 Crow Bar                   $   2.85
       Jacob Wattenbarger     1 Still 2 tubs               $ 172.50
       James Thomas           1 Still 2 tubs               $  97.35
       Cash received on J Williams Note                    $  50.00
       Cash received on P Davis Note                       $  25.00

                             FOR A TOTAL OF $1157.02  
The forgoing is a true Inventory and Account of Sales of the personal property of Jonathan Thomas Dec'd that has come into my hands, or the hands of any person also for me to the best of my knowledge and belief.

  Sworn before me 17 July 1865                 E L Miller
               R M Fisher Clk.                      Extr.

Note. The above accounting of property and sales does not include the 1735 acres of land upon which taxes were charged under the Act of Congress, entitled "An Act for the Collection of Direct Taxes in Insurrectionary Districts within the United States, and for other purposes" approved June 7, 1862, and the Act amendatory thereof approved February 6, 1863. The taxes in the amount of $21.11 were paid on in the name of Jonathan Thomas December 7, 1865.

Jonathan Thomas also advanced considerable sums of money to his children prior to his death and made these sums absolute gifts in his will dated February 28, 1863.

According to the above settlement of Jonathan Thomas' estate Jane and Harriet advanced $1600.00 to E L Miller, Executor, as the $1157.02 proceeds from the sale of Jonathan's personal property was not sufficient to cover his debts. Jane and Harriet received the homeplace as directed in Jonathan's will.