Sunday, February 10, 2013

Research for the murder - Day 9 of the Family History Writing Challenge

Posting a day late. Wrote out all the notes and got sidetracked by a quilt. After reading about Civil War quilts, I decided to make one for my son, 2 down, 22 more Log Cabin block to go.

The story goes that John Carter Rhea was exchanging his rifle for a piece of land owned by John Brewer. The piece of land, on the Clinch River, bordered his property. The story we were told as children leave images are of the family going to the property where, as he turned to walk away, was shot dead by John Brewer using his own gun on September 21, 1884.

Andrew was 18
Mary Leoni was 16
Laura was 14
Floyd was 11
Luvena was 9
Della was 7
Victor was 4
William was 2

Martha was pregnant with Lillie who was born November 4, 1884.

John Brewer fled to New Mexico to avoid prosecution.

The story Bill Rhea tells is slightly different. He doesn’t change anything about the murder except the setting and the state where John Brewer went.

His story puts the family at home. There is a small tree he called the black tree that is next to the house. That is where John Carter Rhea was standing when he shot. The kids were all at home so assuming they were all outside to watch the transfer of the deed, they were all witnesses. He also says that John Brewer fled to Texas.

Bill Rhea is the grandson on Washington Floyd. His father was Howard Rhea who shared the story with him and showed him the tree. They live in Sneedville and are close to the actual event. Floyd was gone before Bill was born. Bill has the actual arrest warrant for John Brewer and says that he fled to Texas. I have to believe his version.

My grandfather was William. My father was Ernest Rhea. William left Tennessee sometime in 1914. He would know the story but time and distance changes the perspective. He was also only two that day. Washington Floyd was 11.

It doesn’t change the truth. John Brewer killed John Carter Rhea.

I recently contacted my 2nd cousin, Floyd William (Bill) Rhea in Sneedville, Tennessee. It was difficult for me since he is a total stranger and I tend to shy away from contacting people I don’t know. Still, he has info that I don’t.

He was very helpful and friendly. He is the one who told me about the small tree and the warrant. He doesn’t know where it is. He put it away for safekeeping and we have all done that. He is a sitting judge in Hancock County and busy so I appreciated his time. However, now I want to know more so I’m sending him another email to see what else he can share.

While I wait for a response, this is where my theme should take off. Martha Jane McColloam Rhea dealt with the death of her husband while she was still pregnant with her 9th child.

This ties into her mother who spent 30 years without her husband while he was off in California. She had to have learned how to deal with situations from her mother as she tried to raise her three children alone.

Sneedville was a small town with all the families inter-related. All of them had family around so one has to guess that help was available. How far that went is dependent on family dynamics. In her later life, Martha Jane shares information about family and neighbors in her letters.

Records for Joseph Andrew stop in 1880 when he was 14. A family Bible only says that he died young although there is a note on another tree saying he was her grandfather and lived much longer. The truth here is hard to determine. I tend to go with the family Bible. That would have been 4 years before John Carter died.

Mary Leoni married at age 20 and moved to another county in Tennessee, four years after the death of her father. Martha Jane talks about her visiting in 1918.

Laura married at age 22, 8 years after her father died. She lived in Sneedville until about 1910 when she moved to Oklahoma at the age of 40. That was 19 years before her mother dies.

Washington Floyd was 31 when his first child was born. He lived in Sneedville his whole life. He passed away at age 56 on February 3, 1929, a little over a month before Martha Jane on March 22, 1929.

Luvena died in 1913 at the age of 37. She never married and apparently lived at home. 24 Apr 1913

Fidello Florence – Della lived her whole life in Sneedville. She is mentioned a lot in the letters.

Victor Edwin was still living in Sneedville in 1940 but moved after that to Rogersville in Hawkins County. He lived in Sneedville while his mother was alive.

William left Sneedville in 1914 when he was 32.

Lillie was living in Sneedville in the 1920 census and in Virginia in the 1930 census. Martha passed away in 1929. I don’t know when Lillie went to Virginia but may not have moved before her mother was gone.

I really thought I had thought this out only to find that another timeline is necessary. Along with the timeline are the events of the period that needed to be researched. Back to the drawing board.

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