yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


from the research notes of Francis Thomas

Big Sandy, Tenn., JAN. 6, 1956

Dear Mr. Holladay--

Uncle Hoe and my paternal grandmother (Sophia) were born at "Rushing Hotel" (about Flat Woods). The Hotel was also a brick structure. The 49ers would leave the expectant mothers there until they were able to go on West. Eva Tenn. is probably the oldest spot (I mean settled) in Benton Co. You can get information from Mr. Blake Pafford Mr. Thomas most of all. Mr. Jesse Allen Faxon now in a nursing home in Paris was from the original Bentons. The old Rushings were Seamen from Wales. They returned to Va. and the old set died at Old Point Comfort. Some of the generation of my grandmother returned to the East and died in N.C. Grandmother had a bro. who went to Texas. Uncle Dr. Holden & Dr. Finis Rushing joined him there. Uncle Finis was present when he died. Ross might give you his name. Go to Paris and visit with Mr. Allen. He is an unfortunate but wonderful man.

Neppie Smith


Big Sandy Tenn.


Mr. Holladay--

Your history of the L. & N. Rail Road in the "Chronicle" yesterday was good. The old Irish built the roadbed. From Father I collected a lot of date [data?]. At night, after bed time is the only time I have to think.

When I built the new house here I had book shelves from ceiling to floor, but not one copy of English history do I have or even an encyclopedia. The old Rushings came to this country during the reign of Geo. III. If I am right, he was an idiot--fool. Father told me his grandfather always intended to return to Wales. Under Wm. IV they intended to return. Now I can't look up these English kings--but you can--you have time. Under Victoria, they would have returned but Civil War here broke them. The L&N R.R. broke Uncle Hoe or rather cut into the huge business he had. Now my story begins when the Civil War ended and Grandfather got his backing to return to the largest planter in this county.

This is all,

Neppie Rushing Smith


Big Sandy

(No date)

Dear Mr. Holladay--

I have compiled many things about the early life at Point Mason in the hope that someday I may put it in book form which would weave enough fiction to make it sell. The Rushing family came from Wales. They were Celtic and spoke Celtic (my father knew a lot) and I presume 'twas like Irish Gaelic. I have proof they came first to Mass. and were disappointed at not reaching Va., returned to England, but Willis and Aaron returned to Va. Willis & Chair were among those who returned to England-- Uncle Holden Rushing was a brother to grandmother Sophia Rushing and a cousin to grandfather Wm Crawford Rushing. (I believe their father--Holden & Sophia--could be proved to be Aaron. Uncle Hoe kept store at Pt. Mason during the great battle and was about on the 40 yd. line--he and Forrest were great friends according to my father) the enemy was known to him by the time they left Dover, and say Danville was the 50 yd. line; Forrest was ready for them at Eva.

My father never saw the current exchange of money until long after the Civil War; grandfather (Wm Crawford) traded in gold and received English pounds for much of his wares, which he could convert. My father recalled the first present currency he ever saw. Uncle Louie Nash (died @ '87 or '88 or '89) his father serviced the L&N R.R. at the old crossing--we called it the "saw Mill" crossing. The service was bundles of tender tied--could be hay or straw grass, and splinters or limbs and hogsheads of water, as he said Uncle Louis Nash's father was paid and thought it was a dirty Yankee trick to beat him out of his services. There are lots of things I have compiled.

My father was a brilliant man (Robt. Willis Rushing) if I was lucky enough to get hold of him before he could meet someone with a drink.

Neppie Smith

The old Rushings were:

Willis -- Chair -- John (Jon)

Willis -- Dennis -- Aaron


Dear Mr. Holladay--

Here are the dates on the stones in the Rushing Creek Cemetery. Dennis & Willis were probably born in the late 1700's. My father told me that his grandfather (Willis) kept a trading post and pony express P.O. somewhere up there before father was born (1855) All mail went by saddle bag. Dennis was buried somewhere around "Flat Woods" (He was grandmother's (Sophia) and Uncle Hoe's (Holden) father. He operated a brick hotel somewhere up there. Their fathers were Abel & Jon from Wales--probably born in early 1700's.

(Some of the old ones were born 1713) The old ones were buried at Hampton Roads Va. -- Old Point Comfort Va. Hampton Roads was after the Point. The early settlers went North -- South or West. Our Rushings came West to So. Car., hence Tennessee The old set came to Mass. -- returned to England & then returned to Va. My husband studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music and I looked at all the old records available while we lived there. We took up residence in Springfield, Mass. My husband was Concert Conductor. I searched old records. I loved New England. I went as a bride to Vermont. I cannot understand why the old folks did not like it. The old ones and Willis & Dennis spoke some English but their tongues were Celtic. Father told me (Robt. W.) that when the Northern army moved into Grandfather's home in 1861 that grandfather ran for his life. He lived in trees and in the woods. An old one legged Yankee soldier took him notes from Grandmother in Celtic so the Yankees could not interpret it. (The old soldier stayed there the rest of his life)

(Bro. Pate may be able to tell you) Aunt "Sissy" Fry was a baby in the cradle when the Yankees came. They dropped body lice on the baby while searching the cradle and nearly killed her! I have a few silver spoons the Yankees did not find. My grandmother was raised like a queen and they made her cook for them like a slave, and from that time on, she knew hard work. My father loved her beyond all others and grandmother loved him best. She sent for father when she knew she was to die and he would hold her on his lap. She called him "My first son". Father said some of him died too, then. His father was hard--cold & calculating--probably the loss from the Civil War. Father loved Uncle Hoe.

Neppie Smith

I just loved Brother Nelson, like Tom Pye--Sidney Peeler and yourself--just someone who remembers. One Sunday Bro. Nelson had a baptizing and Lester Nobles wanted to be baptized. Bro. Nelson told him to help hold onto his feet and bow down (he weighed 250#) He was dead weight and they both floated down the creek 40 or 50 ft. before anyone could save them. Bro. Nelson was wearing his first store bought suit. He rode a horse in the sun and the suit got smaller & smaller (It was small for a 10 yr. old boy!!!)


March. 5, 1956

Mr. Holladay--

Uncle Holden Rushing and my grandmother Sophia were born to an old Welsh Noblewoman--so far as we know she did not have a surname. I remember my father said she was from the Chair. She was a woman of some wealth and was old and surly with lots of character for Uncle Hoe & grandmother were wonderful people. This woman died and their father married again. Aunt Polly Lindsey (Ed & John) cousin Jeffri Fuqua [Jeff ie -- Fuqua?] and if there were others of that marriage, I don't recall. One of the old Rushing women married one of the Masons and their dau (who was Uncle Hoe & Grandmother's own Aunt) married Bill Woodson who was also Aunt Mary Woodson Rushing's grandmother (Aunt Mary was Uncle Walter's wife) (no children) You will have to supplement this law, but my father told me that it was against the law for women to have holdings in Real Estate in those days, so the real estate became their husbands'. These old women became wealthy by their inheritance (a legacy) from the old ones. Uncle Hoe mar. Elizabeth Lashlee dau. of Anderson Lashlee of White Oak Island. Uncle Hoe died 1-6-1887 -- age 62 yrs. 4 mos. (very difficult to read the old gravestone) My father loved Uncle Hoe & Aunt Lizzie Beth (Elizabeth) Lill Cooper and Dr. McAuley loved to tell me stories about this wonderful family. These wonderful people are all joined now. Newt. Lindsey (husband of Lucy) died last summer and that was the last connection of the family. I believe I will see all of these loved ones again.

P.S. Re that old photograph -- My father had returned from Point Mason with the Negroes. My father became the head of the family in 1861 at age 8 yrs.

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