Appalachia Genealogy

Maggie Collett Martin


When the leaves began to turn last fall I started thinking of Maggie. In the beginning I’m sure I was actually thinking of Maggie’s Chapel Church, but before long my mind had settled on the Maggie it was named after and I knew I wouldn’t be able to ignore the prickling feeling I had until I figured out who she was. Years ago I found the oldest gravestone in the church cemetery was Maggie Martin 1868-1892. While I pondered the church’s namesake I decided Maggie Martin had to have something to do with it.


I pass Maggie’s Chapel every day. If you look through the sparse woods from the road you can see the church standing like a sentry. But even if you don’t look, you’re reminded of the church by the sign that sits close to the road. You barely have to avert your eyes from the highway to see it.


(notice the old sign: Baptist Methodist)

As I was sharing my memories of Maggie’s Chapel with you the other day, I left out one interesting tidbit. Over the years the church has shared a dual denomination. An occurrence that might be considered odd in most areas, but here in strong Southern Baptist country it seems downright impossible. Pap told me throughout his lifetime the church had went back and forth between the Baptist and Methodist denominations and since the congregation was mostly neighbors, family, and friends more often than not it was a mixture of the two.

After the question of who Maggie had settled itself deep in my brain I called Pap. Right off he thought he might know who Maggie was. Pap said “If I recall right when Ab Bullard and his wife come to this country, all the way from Cherry Log GA, they brought their old Mother with them and I think her name was Maggie. And it seems like I remember her getting folks to try and improve the church cause at that time it wasn’t much more than a lean to.”


I must admit, I was disappointed with Pap’s lead. I mean I’m sure the elderly lady was nice and all, but I already had this picture of Maggie in my mind and that didn’t fit it. This whole little episode shows how smart Pap and I are.

It took me longer than I want to admit to realize the Maggie Pap remembered couldn’t have had anything to do with the naming of the church. Even if Maggie Martin’s gravestone didn’t have anything to do with it either, there are enough graves that date well before Pap’s birth to show the church was already in use before Maggie and the Bullards came to this country from Cherry Log GA.

While I was asking around, someone suggested since it had been a Methodist church I should contact the Methodist Association because they kept records of all their churches. I did, and a very nice lady did some research for me, but she couldn’t even find a record of there being a Methodist Church in Cherokee County named Maggie’s Chapel.

In the meantime, Maggie kept needling me to find her. I made more than a few trips to the church, but that didn’t do anything but intensify the feeling that Maggie wanted me to know who she was. One day as I was searching an online genealogy database I stumbled upon Jean Darnall’s name and email. Her email was listed as a contact person for information concerning Cherokee County NC. I figured it was a stab in the dark, but I fired off an email about Maggie to Jean. I figured I’d probably never hear back from her. In only a few hours Jean answered my email and better than that she had information about Maggie…the right Maggie.

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Jean sent me this:

I found out more about “Maggie Martin”, whose gravestone image you sent:  I found information about Maggie and her birth family in the following reference books:

1)  Grindstaff, Irene Collett.  “Hugh and Amanda Stalcup Collett”  The History of Cherokee County North Carolina, Vol. I.
Page 124.

2) Collett, Anna Drake Roper.  “Abram and Mary “Polly” Stewart Collett”  The History of Cherokee County North Carolina, Vol. I.   Page 123.

3)  Freel, Margaret.  Our Heritage-the History of Cherokee County, North Carolina.  Reprint.  Pages 263-264.

SUMMARY:
Margaret Eugenia “Maggie” Collett was born Aug. 14, 1869 and died 1892.  Her parents were Hugh Mack “Hugh” Collett and his first wife, Amanda Stalcup (Hugh went on to marry three more times).  Maggie was one of 10 children of Hugh and Amanda (Stalcup) Collett.  Maggie’s paternal grandparents were Abraham “Abram” and Mary “Polly” (Stewart) Collett, who were the first settlers in Valleytown, Cherokee Co., NC.

Maggie’s birth family played an important role in the settlement of Cherokee County, NC.  According to these sources, her grandparents, Abram and Polly, arrived in Valleytown (called the Cherokee Nation when they arrived) in 1830.  Abram received grants of land from the U.S. government amounting to hundreds of acres, but he chose to purchase the same land from his close neighbor and friend, Junaluska, the Chief of the Cherokee Nation, thus preserving good relations. Abram was elected ranger from Fort Butler, later the town of Murphy, in 1839.

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After reading Jean’s research I was impressed that Maggie had a direct connection to the first white settlers of Valleytown-her grandparents. But still the question remained-was the church named for her?

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Jean had the answer to that question too:

The Heritage of Cherokee County, Vol. II has a family history which I believe answers your question. Among the family histories in this volume was one titled “Julius John B. and Maggie Collett Martin” (#1094 on page 259). This family lived in the Brasstown section of Cherokee County, and they were responsible for the formation of this cemetery.

Here’s an excerpt:

“…One Sunday afternoon, when Julius and Maggie walked to the top of the hill above where they lived, Maggie pointed to a place and told Julius that is where she wished to be buried.  A short time later Maggie passed away. Julius saw that her wish was granted. He gave the land for the cemetery. Soon others were interred there and a small church was built. The church is known as Maggie’s Chapel. Both Baptist and Methodist congregations use this church…”

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Maggie and her husband Julius had 3 sons: Hamilton, Verlin, and Jeff. After Maggie died, Julius went on to marry again. He and his new wife, Ada, had 9 daughters and moved to the Martins Creek section (the next community over) of Cherokee County. Many of his descendants still live in Martins Creek and the surrounding area today.

Maggie would have been 24 when she died. A young mother of 3 children barely has time to catch her breath much less point out where she wants to be buried. Makes me think she knew she wouldn’t be on this Earth much longer when she showed her husband where she wanted her final resting place to be.

After I told Pap what Jean had shared with me, he said he could remember an old falling down house that sit just below the church on the left side of the driveway down in a little hollow when he was a young boy. Could that have been Maggie and Julius’s house? Maybe…probably.

Since I’ve been old enough to notice such things I’ve seen the yellow bells and spirea that bloom in the woods just where Pap remembers the old house.

As I drove to and fro this spring the flowers seemed especially sweet to me. I thought of Maggie just a young slip of a girl who probably planted them herself, never dreaming a church would be named after her, a church that would continue to influence her community through the coming generations; never dreaming her memory would nudge a Brasstown girl to discover who she was over a 100 years later.

Tipper

p.s. THANK YOU Jean-for helping me find Maggie!

 

 

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Crystal Richmond
    February 14, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Oh what a sweet , sweet story today on this Valentine’s Day. Yes, I believe this young mother must have known her dats were few. Thank you for such an appropriate story today. Always enjoy everything you share.
    Crys of Arkansas

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    February 14, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Tipper: You are a great detective! What you have uncovered, and shared in such a meaningful style, is simply priceless! The only problem I had was reading your post through ‘tear-dimmed’ eyes.
    Happy Valentine Day
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Marge Borchert
    February 14, 2016 at 8:14 am

    I loved this essay about Maggie, and I love the pictures you included. Very touching.
    Marge

  • Reply
    Tipper
    May 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Barbara-I don’t! But maybe I need to find out : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Charline
    May 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    What a beautiful story! I like the way you said Maggie wanted you to find her, and so you did, as you traced the name of the church and the heritage of the young couple. I am always fascinated by the history of the original land grants vs. Cherokee holdings in the area, as I descend from both. Those county genealogy sites are always a great place to start digging for those gems.

  • Reply
    Anastasia
    May 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    What a gripping tale! I was mesmerized by your account of Maggie Martin and impressed by your perseverance.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    May 5, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Great story & great research,
    Tipper! As “Miss” Hattie Caldwell Davis reminds me, all our old folks have “gone in the ground” taking much of our history with them. Thank you for your persistance in bringing this valuable bit to light.

  • Reply
    Paul
    May 5, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    You have once again unearthed some history that may have been lost. Thanks for the great post. I was happy to hear you got some answers. Thanks to Jean as well.

  • Reply
    Caro
    May 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    what a wonderful story! I have noticed the name Maggie Chapel and thought it odd and cool. It’s nice to have the backstory! And good for you that you unraveled a mystery and gave Maggie her identity back in the community.I love the sog that is accompanying…There is a time. I guess that must be Chitter and Chatter singing!
    Caro
    Caro

  • Reply
    RB
    May 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    I was so touched by this story. We never know, do we…
    With love.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    Tipper
    May 5, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Don-I don’t think it was named for Julius-but Martins Creek was for sure named after someone from the Martin family. As you know-there is a Martins Creek School, a Martins Creek Community Center-and 2 Martins Creek Churches : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    May 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks Tipper for your work and sharing with us . Wonderful history. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Lanie
    May 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I loved this post. It gave me chill bumps when you mentioned that Maggie’s flowers still bloom.

  • Reply
    Mamabug
    May 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful info with us. I’m so glad you were able to find out who Maggi was. We have a little church here in town that was shared by the Episcopal and Presbyterian congregations for many, many years. One had an early service and the second one was a little later in the morning.

  • Reply
    Tom
    May 5, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    What an awesome post! So amazing what one email can do these days. People like Jean are great resources to help us uncover the past. And Tipper, your curiosity and great Appalachian heart and spirit make all of us Acorns proud to be part of your network. Thank you very much for sharing Maggie with us!

  • Reply
    Brandi Nabors
    May 5, 2011 at 11:37 am

    awesome background! i’d been wanting to know more about maggie since you first mentioned her! i would love to know maggie even deeper – did she take to bein’ ill for a while or was her passing unexpected? i wonder if she could write a post, what sort of things would she mention? thx for passing along the info you found out! i feel personally invested now 😉

  • Reply
    Rechelle
    May 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

    This is why I love your blog- you help us remember people, times and traditions that would otherwise be forgotten- I love that now, even though Maggie has been gone for years , we can still know about her and her life-and in some small way keep her meomory alive-

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    May 5, 2011 at 9:48 am

    What a wonderful post Tipper! I read it with interest and some excitement. There are Stallcup’s in Hubby’s family from back in the Carolinas before his nearer ancestors moved along to Arkansas and other places. Now I have to hit the genealogy records again to see if there might be some connection to this story as well.
    Thanks and you have a good day now!

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    May 5, 2011 at 9:44 am

    That’s a good one Tipper. I am really glad you followed up on it.

  • Reply
    Becky
    May 5, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Love this! I’m glad someone took the time to record all of this information. You are making me want to get back to researching our land again. I got busy and it was moved to the bottom of my to-do list.
    Now maybe Maggie can again rest, knowing that she is not forgotten.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 5, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Tipper, that’s some fine detective work you’ve done.
    It seems that for some reason Maggie has taken an interest in you. I bet she is pleased with what you wrote about her.
    Now, thanks to Don, are we going to learn the origin of Martins Creek? lol

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    May 5, 2011 at 9:03 am

    great stories — both of Maggie and your determination to find her! Love the Baptist Methodist connection. The church in Atco, GA was originally used by both denominations.

  • Reply
    Rod Weigel
    May 5, 2011 at 8:34 am

    That is an extremely informative and heartwarming missive Tipper. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 5, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Tipper–Nice job, and as a historian I appreciate the research and probling curiosity whicheventually gave you the right answers on Maggie.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    kat
    May 5, 2011 at 8:19 am

    what a great story, but a sad one, to hear that Maggie died so young leaving her babies and husband. Am glad he honored her wish and buried her where she wanted. It’s funny about the folks sharing the church. Maybe they didn’t have enough folks to justify two buildings or would just switch out of boredom! You do such a great job bringing us interesting posts it makes my day to get my coffee and read what you have to say.

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    May 5, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Wonderful story, I love history. Do you know who Maggie Valley was named for? Barbara

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    May 5, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Maggie’s Martin Family appears to have a much older history in Tennessee. A Joseph Martin, probably Maggie’s relative, settled in the Cumberland Gap in March 1769, but Indian attacks drove him out. Over the next six years Martin and Daniel Boone, the frontier’s famed “long hunter,” surveyed and registered speculative land claims beyond the mountains. In 1775 Judge Richard Henderson of North Carolina sponsored a crew of thirty axe-men at Boone’s direction, widening the old “Kentucky Path” to bring in settlers on the new Wilderness Road. Boonesboro was founded at its terminus. By the turn of the century as many as 300,000 pioneers from Virginia and the Carolinas had made their way west through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky and the Ohio Valley. This was the time of Cherokee Chief Dragging Canoe, the days of Kaintuck and Tanasee’s “dark and bloody ground.” See Davidson, Donald, “The Tennessee” (1946, reprinted by M. E. Bradford, Ed., Southern Classics Series, J. S. Sanders & Co., Nashville, TN, 1991), Vol. I, “The Old River: Frontier to Secession,” 196-200; and Finger, John R., “Tennessee Frontiers, Three Regions in Transition” (Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN, 2001). Judge Henderson is entered on the Internet.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    May 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Loving to do genealogy myself, I appreciate your efforts to dig into this little mystery. It would be cool to find some of Maggie’s descendents and ask them about the church and home, etc.
    As for the church being Methodist and Baptist, if that’s the case, I have heard of different denominations sharing a church when it was situated in a secluded area.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    May 5, 2011 at 7:48 am

    This is great. Good for you on your persistence, Tipper, and it looks like you’ve found one of your angel kin in Jean.
    Is Martins Creek named for Julius or one of the other Martins?

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 5, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Tipper,
    Great post. I love the history..
    Margaret..and Maggie has been a favorite name for generations..
    I couldn’t imagine picking my burial site at age 24…how sad.
    We have a friend who is a retired Methodist minister. One of the first churches he attended after retirement was a Baptist church near his retirement home…I teased him and said, “I knew us Baptists’ would change your ways.” “Well, he said, “I just wondered what it was all about and being a “stubborn Baptist” I couldn’t get you over here.” ha It was never about the denominations, it was a matter of distance and convenience..and friends..All-praising one purpose going the same direction with minor differences…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    GrannyPam
    May 5, 2011 at 6:18 am

    What a gem you have written here. I know the feeling of past generations beckoning, and certainly Maggie was doing just that. This is a great piece of history that you have brought to light.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    May 5, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Wow…another homerun post. Love reading this — so very sad for Maggie and her babies. Hope that they had a good stepmother. Don’t you think maybe that because it was so common for women to die in childbirth during that era, she might have been thinking of that? And she was born right after the war, and of course grew up hearing about so much death, etc. (I had a beloved great Aunt Maggie who was known to say after someone had gotten their feelings hurt, whatever in church — esp. us Baptists/ you know how we are…lol , “Well, so and so has upped and went over to the Methodists .” So maybe they “upped and went over to the Methodists and then upped and went over to the Baptists for a spell. 🙂

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