Genealogy is my obsession…there I’ve said it. Anyone who knows me thinks that I am a bit twisted to think going to cemeteries and court houses makes for a good vacation. Everyone where I work thinks that I must be related to everybody. I grant you…I have a large family – but not quite that large. The trick is that I know more about my relatives than most people – I’m sure some things that they wish I didn’t know J When we genealogists get a chance to have one of those vacations – where we get to go to cemeteries and courthouses – we tend to take advantage of the situation – especially if it involves flying clear across the United States to go to North Carolina!
Back in 2001, I flew back to visit my distant cousin Tammy Dollar. Her mother, Mary, offered to take me to Abingdon, VA for a visit. (Ashe Co., NC, Johnson Co., TN, and Washington Co, VA form a corner where all three states meet). Mary took me to meet her cousin and I decided that I shouldn’t let the opportunity pass to ask a few questions. You see – I knew that my great great great grandfather lived in Washington Co., VA and that his son had lived there as well. My great great grandmother, his daughter Buena Vista Bailey, had died at age 21 and she had been a difficult person to research. I asked Mary’s cousin if she knew of Luther Bailey, Buena Vista’s half-brother, – after all there were only a few thousand people who lived there J I was shocked when Mary’s cousin replied that she knew him well, her husband grew up next door to him and wondered if I knew his daughter-in-law. I was thrilled with the prospect that I might finally find some information. She and Mary proceeded to drive me to the place where Luther Bailey had lived and up to the cemetery where he was buried. There to my delight was the gravestone of Jasper L. Bailey as well as his third wife and several of his children and descendants. I finally had full dates. Unfortunately, that was the day that I had forgotten my digital camera – and I had to use a disposable one. I had forgotten how cumbersome it was to have a limited amount of pictures that I could take. Mary and her cousin then took me down to meet Luther’s daughter in law. Mrs. Bailey was a delightful older lady who really didn’t know that much about the family but I tried to pump her for information regardless.
|Looking down on Shingletown from the cemetery.|
|Looking up to the cemetery from the church.|
Mary went and knocked on the door of the house near the cemetery to see if we could get directions to the cemetery. A man in his 50’s stepped out of the house and gave us directions. After such a wonderful day – I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to ask if he knew where the Dollars had lived. He looked at me and said that “I don’t rightly know – but if my Daddy were here, he could tell you!” No sooner than he made that statement, an elderly gentleman road up with a younger woman driving a truck. His son asked his father (quite loudly, I might add) if he knew where the Dollar place was. The old gentleman replied “Roe Dollar’s place - It is up the road a few miles off the left fork of the road.” At that point, I was getting excited but definitely needed some clarification and asked him if he meant Roby Dollar. He turned and looked at me and said “No – he was the one with all them daughters…I mean his Daddy!” ( Roby had 10 daughters and used to quip that he would never be poor because he would always have his 10 Dollars) I was about ready to jump out of my skin. He was talking about Alexander Monroe Dollar who was called Monroe quite often. He was my great grandmother’s grandfather and raised her. This was the house that my great grandmother had been raised in. The same house that she told me about when I was a little girl.
Mary and I thanked the gentleman and his family for their help and jumped in the car and headed up the road. We came to a clearing near the top of the road and there sitting in front of me was a little white house. I swear that the hair on the back of my neck tingled. I was looking at the house that my great grandmother had been born in and grew up in. She had probably sat on that front porch and looked about her and dreamed of what her life would be – never knowing that it would be so far from where she grew up.
I have since been back to that house and have been inside of it as well as the church. I’ve been taken above the hill behind the house where the Dollars had owned and worked the land. I knew that somewhere around that house were probably at least three graves that I would never find. That of Alexander Monroe Dollar and his first wife, Elizabeth Pennington and my great grandmother’s mother, Buena Vista Bailey – all had probably died near that house. I’ve never found evidence that they were buried in the Wesley Methodist Church Cemetery or the Shingletown Cemetery as it was known – so I believe that they were buried elsewhere.
|The house that my great grandmother lived in! - Shingletown, Johnson Co., TN|
I have never had a day like that one – back in 2001. It was truly an exciting day that will live in my memory always. It was a happy coincidence to meet that old gentleman – he was probably one of the few people who remember the Dollar family when they lived there. His family had operated a store at the end of the road near the house that we knocked on the door. That small place was called Shingletown and the store that his family ran was the same store that my great grandmother had talked about when I was a child. That old gentleman died a few months later – he will always live in my memory as my guide to my great grandmother’s childhood home!