Appalachia Genealogy

The Colemans in 1902

The colemans cherokee county nc

The Coleman family – 1902.  Pap’s grandmother, my great grandmother was a Coleman.

My immediate family has been tightly woven with more than a few of those Coleman descendants. Why I dare say they’re close as family, which would be sort of silly because they are family even if its in a distant manner.

The colemans cherokee county nc with names


I won’t go into all the family details, only a few. See Elias and Sarah? They were the parents of 11 children. There was:

  • Dora-surely she’s one of the ladies?
  • Ella- a twin!
  • Ollie- a twin!
  • George
  • Frank (wasn’t he handsome!)
  • William
  • Jennie
  • Carrie (my Big Grandma)
  • Fred
  • Joseph
  • Sarah

Folks are trying to give names to all the faces. The follow are notes from my cousin Nina.

  • Maybe Fred is the 4 child over from Big Grandma-he would have been about that age
  • Maybe its Aunt Ollie by Frank
  • The gentleman standing between the 2 ladies holding babes looks too tall to have been a Coleman from this bunch so maybe he’s a spouse
  • Maybe the baby in the mother Sarah’s arms is the last child-named Sarah
  • Marion Green is the man in the back beside Ellie holding a child-he and Ellie were married

A few things I thought of when I first saw the picture:

  • One of the first things I noticed was how well dressed they look-they look pretty spiffy and well to do for 1902 in this area
  • The bench the children are sitting on
  • The scenery behind them
  • I wonder where the photo was taken
  • How Big Grandma’s face and expression remind me so much of Chatter and Chitter’s and Pap’s, and maybe mine too

When Chatter was just a little bitty thing a sweet lady down the road named Zelma would tell me every time she saw us that Chatter was just like Carrie/Big Grandma.

I can barley remember Big Grandma. I don’t have any of the fond memories of her that I do of her daughter Marie, Pap’s mother. Oh but Pap does. He has great memories of the days and nights he spent with Big Grandma. He says he can’t hear good piano music that he doesn’t think of her. And I’ve heard more than one person say Pap was her favorite. I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but I don’t think anyone told her that because I believe she had a favorite from my generation too and it wasn’t me!

A fellow Coleman descendant recently shared the photo with me on Facebook. Just wow. I still can’t quit looking at it.  I’ve never seen a photo of Big Grandma as a child. I’ve stared at this picture for over a week. I just can’t get over the pull it has for my eyes.

I’d like to go back and tell them all the things I just told you: that the Coleman descendants have tight connections to this day-especially Frank and Carrie’s descendants; that those facial features are still showing up and looking pretty good all these years later; and that four, five, six, and even seven generations later-some of us are still right here where they left us.



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  • Reply
    Martha Coleman Bearden
    February 14, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    I can see why everyone can’t take their eyes off of this wonderful old photo. Wonder if our Coleman’s can be related? My Coleman’s came from Belfast Ireland to the port of Charleston in 1820 & settled in Laurens County, S.C. Some then settled in the North Greenville area. My direct line settled in Abbeville County, S.C.. Some now live in Chester, S.C..

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    November 22, 2015 at 8:59 am

    I just love, love, old family pictures. You have a good one, there. Sometimes I enlarge them or try to look at them under a magnifying glass. When doing that, I see things that I missed seeing before. I would love to go back in time for a week and walk alongside my ancestors. Oh, the questions we could ask them and the things we could learn.

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 22, 2015 at 12:00 am

    You know, I think that Ollie is a hot looking lady even if she is married with three kids and almost 80 years older than me. Ella probably looks just as good but she’s hid herself way back in the back. I am actually kinda partial to the bashful kind!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    This is a great treasure- thank you, as always, for sharing.

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 21, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    If that is Ollie then the tall man is her husband John Roberts. The baby she is holding is likely Stephen Elisha Roberts born 30 May 1901. She had two girls older than Stephen. Bessie would have been about 5 and Tiney about 3 so they could be the girls on the bench.
    In 1902 Dora was married to John Carroll and had a son Mark, who would have been 6 at the time. He could be one of the boys on the bench likely the shorter one. Dora was a widow in 1902 and wouldn’t have any more children until after 1909 when she married Andy Moore. She and Andy had 3 children, two of whom died in the 19 teens, then she died in 1920. Her life was a tragedy, that is all you can say about it.
    Sarah the mother is probably holding Sarah her youngest, born in 1900, who married William George Burchfield, my second cousin 2X removed.
    Ella is probably holding her baby Stanley and her husband Marion Green beside her is probably holding their 3 year old daughter Bertha.
    Fred was 7 in 1902 so I going to guess that he is the taller boy on the bench.
    William is 17 so he has to be the young man at the far left or the one next to Sarah and Sarah. My best guess is that he is beside his mother and baby sister and that the young man at the far left is George and the young lady beside him is his wife Ora Lee Dockery, although she looks like the Colemans.
    That leaves Dora and Joseph. George is 26 at the time so could that be him between William and the woman with the little baby? Could that woman be his wife Martha Roberts Coleman, and their oldest child Mary born about 1901? That still leaves no face for Dora. She could be lady with the little baby but the child wouldn’t have been her own. When you get it all figured out let me know how far off I am.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    November 21, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Amazing picture. Beautiful family, surely a credit to your GGrandma and GGpa.
    Are you sure that’s Big Grandma Carrie you have marked there sitting with the children on a bench? It looks more like a young girl, maybe preteen.
    It’s amazing to think of these women having large families with few to none of the modern conveniences, when so many parents today with all the modern conveniences and having only 1 or 2 kids can’t seem to teach them to be courteous, respectful and well behaved, isn’t it.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    George Jones
    November 21, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for the photo and comments I
    don’t think I have seen this one. I have great memories of Grandma (Big) also.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 21, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I loved this picture…I have looked at old photos of my (antique) relatives and tried my best to figure out who they all were only based on one person in the picture that I knew for sure…Quite a challenge!
    There was a man that lived and worked on my Grandfathers farm, his name was Coleman. His hair was dark and he was of medium build as I remember as a child of the early forties.
    I don’t know if it was his last or first name…but I am pretty sure it was his last name. My aunt said he was the most trustworthy man ever to work and help my Grandfather with his tobacco crops. When we would visit he was always polite and respectful. I know he loved cats or the (wild) cat loved him as my aunt would say. He was the only person on the place that the cat would come to even though I never, or my aunt never heard him call or feed the cat. His voice was so soft and kind as he would speak to the cat. The cat would actually sit in his lap when he would be sitting on the porch after supper! When it saw one of us, or my Aunt (who called and left food for all the farm cats) it would “skedaddle” off his lap and run under the porch until all was quiet and then it would ease back out searching for Coleman! When I was a little girl, I loved cats, but could never get this cat to come to me or like me. So, I would sit out in the yard a way from the porch and watch that beautiful cat interact with Coleman. I thought I might learn how he got the cat so tame, but just to him. It was like he was a “cat whisperer”! I think that is what they would call him in todays vocabulary! ha
    My aunt said that is another reason she thought he was such an amazing individual, a gift to the farm she would say!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 21, 2015 at 11:00 am

    It’s always nice to see and know your folks and just to ponder about life. No wonder one stands in awe. I once knew a Ronald Coleman, he was a jailer at Murphy and later a maker of Keys. Years ago, he was in my shop and I fixed something for him, but I can’t remember what. I do have ‘senior moments.’ Nice post as always…Ken

  • Reply
    Joe Penland
    November 21, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Old photos are treasures. I have one of my grandmother, grandfather, and their seven children. They even included the pet goat named Pat in the photo!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2015 at 9:28 am

    I am much like you on the old family photos. I cannot quit staring at them, as I know all about them from oral history. I really enjoy yours so much so that when time permits I will come back and study that gorgeous photo. Thanks for sharing! Love, Love, Love, the study of something called genealogy. That word just throws all those great people in a category, and only by reading and hearing about them do they come to life as real people who lived and loved as we do. Appalachians are unique in that we have a great deal of oral history that is handed down to the next generation.
    Our family is close -knit also, and stories about ancestors are shared and handed down through the family, so they are not just ancient appearing photos in black and white. Their cemeteries are respected and cleaned on a regular basis–most of them.
    I can look at my gr gr grandmother’s picture and see my aunt’s features. I have pictures and am aware that another gr gr grandmother died of the Flu Pandemic of 1918 leaving a houseful of small children. I know how they survived. Traits such as being left handed or having twins or triplets in your line become so much more relevant. My first thought was you have fraternal twins in your ancestors, and you have identical.
    There is also a deep seated mystery from over a hundred years ago where there was something called “mountain justice.” I have unraveled what became of all involved, as law enforcement was not very advanced back then.

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    November 21, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Well Tipper, I have a feeling that this photo will ‘occupy’ your thoughts for a long time. The folks are beautiful.
    Back in the Matheson Cove our farm land was contiguous to Frank and Hazel Coleman’s farm. Their cattle would be in the pasture along our back property. Frank was a hard working man and my brothers, David and Donald, LEARNED how to WORK HARD when Frank would hire them in the summer time to cut and stack the hay! Hazel was a dear friend to my mother.
    Hope your day is warm and sunny! Eva Nell
    p.s. I will be selling copies of “Fiddler of the Mountains” over at the Reese Farm in Blairsville next SATURDAY AND SUNDAY! SEND YOUR FRIENDS!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    November 21, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Tipper, some of my most treasured possessions are old family photographs like this. I recently framed four of them alike (pictures different, frames alike) put them on the wall in my dining room. I can enjoy them there more often and I have been surprised how interesting guests find them.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Amazing how you were able to find the identity of some of family in that picture. I have a cousin who researched much of my dad’s side of the family as his dad was one of my uncles, a brother to my dad. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    John Faircloth
    November 21, 2015 at 9:05 am

    What a fantastic picture! It had to be a Sunday, in the Fall or Winter. Aren’t the children being “smart!”
    Just imagine how full the Church must have been that morning. Can you believe how many biscuits
    Big Grandma had to crank out for dinner?
    This kind of a picture feeds us at the deep inner places. Thanks for posting it today.
    [email protected]

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 21, 2015 at 8:59 am

    It is a wonder to me how family resemblance passes down the generations. Somehow it seems logical to think they would gradually be diluted and fade away but it doesn’t happen. The physical description of my wife’s g-g-g-grandfather from his Civil War documents still describe his g-g-g-g-grandboys.
    My Grandma on Dad’s side had a genealogy in her head. And she wasn’t alone. There were other old timers who did the same. For a very long time I was unsure why. There was a very practical reason. It was, at least in part, to guard against the wrong boys and girls getting together. It was another way to be a good parent. There is the ‘official’ genealogy and the ‘unofficial’ one. But it was not anything talked about. It was with consideration of the feelings and reputation of those most concerned.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2015 at 8:58 am

    You and the girls sure look a lot like Ollie. Yes, Frank was a handsome fellow. He looks like my ex-husband when he was younger. Maybe there’s a reason for the resemblance as his mother was also a Coleman.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

    That’s pretty amazing. Don’t you know there’s lots of stories there. Every time I see an old family photo like this I wonder who you are , what were you were doing the day this picture was made and what were you doing the next day? You know there are a thousand stories in that picture..
    That’s a fine family, Tip.

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    November 21, 2015 at 7:54 am

    That’s a fine looking crowd of predecessors you have there, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Darlene Debty Kimsey
    November 21, 2015 at 6:41 am

    What a great picture!

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