Appalachia Genealogy

Memories of Granny’s Grandparents


Back from left: Harrison, Henry, Gertrude; Front from left: Hardy, Thomas, Pearl, Amanda, Byers, Gazzie

Granny was a little girl when her Grandmother Amanda died. She said Amanda was a sweet kind old lady that everybody loved. I asked her what she died from and Granny said “She was just worn out. Having all those kids and having to raise them up just did her in.”

Granny’s mother Gazzie was the oldest of Thomas and Amanda’s children. Granny said Gazzie promised her mother when she died she’d take care of Thomas for the rest of his life and she did.

Once Amanda passed away, Gazzie and her whole family moved in with Thomas.

I thought maybe Thomas was sickly, but Granny said no he was in good health when they moved in. She went on to say “Grandpa went all over the country preaching. Preachers didn’t retire back then they just kept going till they couldn’t go no more.”

Eventually Thomas did become frail. Granny said he ate oatmeal three times a day because he had trouble eating anything else. Granny still has a few of the small dishes that came in his oatmeal containers.

I wondered aloud at the task Gazzie took on by moving in with her father, after all she had nine children of her own to take care of.

Granny said “Why Mama was so tough she could do anything. She helped Grandma with all her babies until the last one. She would have helped with that one, which was Kate, but she had Fay on the same day. Can you believe that—mother and daughter giving birth on the same day.”

Thomas died in 1965 the same year Pap and Granny had their first child, my older brother Steve.


*The Reverend Thomas W. and Amanda Hyde Truett Family


Come cook with me!

Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, June 23 – Saturday, June 29, 2019
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley

Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.

Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.

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  • Reply
    Tony Maynard
    March 22, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    Great story Tipper.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    February 23, 2019 at 8:35 am

    Tipper , we do enjoy your story about your loving good folks. We were reared by the Bible not greed of this life . Have you seen someone that lights up a room when they enter . I feel back in that era God made strong women to replinich the earth and good men to take care of his family. Tipper your one of those special people thank you

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    February 23, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Tipper I loved your article on your family back in that era had true Grit and harmony I came in on the last of a large family being the fourteen I had wonderful parents and had one of the happiest childhood a gal could have. Now I am the last sibling living my Miss Julie(Mother) lived to be 96 . I moved in with my mother took care of her nineteen years lost her in 1990 and my first hubby in 1992. Love and sacrifice .

  • Reply
    February 20, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    So interesting, and shows how people looked out after their own. Both my grandmothers had 12 children, and both died young. They were in mid fifties. I have aunts and uncles my age and younger, more like sisters and btothers when that happens. I am so appreciative of the closeness of Appalachian families. Thanks so much for sharing your family and their stories.

  • Reply
    February 20, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Yes- I would say Gazzie was a strong woman in many ways! Thank you for sharing these family memories,

  • Reply
    February 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    I certainly agree with what TMC stated. My greatgrandmother and husband lived in east TN and had 11 children, among them were two sets of twins and one set of triplets. Her oldest daughter, my grandmother had 11 children with one set of twins. My grandmother had her oldest daughter in 1907 and my greatgrandmother had her last set of twins in 1908. They both were strong women. I know your family realizes how special Gazzie was to move her whole family in with her father and be there for him the rest of his life.

  • Reply
    February 20, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    So wonder-full to read…. What a rich heritage to learn from …..and the richest part about the Gospel that was preached and shared with so many through those years… for all who repented and believed …….is that the best is yet to be 🙂

  • Reply
    February 20, 2019 at 9:08 am

    My ex mother-in-law had thirteen children and like Gazzy, the older children helped to raise the younger ones. She had several grandchildren older than her last two or three kids. I can not imagine having that many children in this day and time! She used to say that when the kids went to school all she had to worry about that day was feeding them when they came home. She said she would rather have that worry than the ones parents are faced with now.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    February 20, 2019 at 9:04 am

    I wonder about the name Byers – do you have any insight into who he was named for? Your reader Don Byers as well as we Casadas have Byers ancestry, and I’d bet you have other Byers descendant readers as well. There’s a Byers Creek which empties into Brasstown Creek in Young Harris and a Byers Branch just east of Smackass Gap in Clay County.

    • Reply
      February 21, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      Smackass Gap! You have given me the best chuckle I’ve had in a long time. Any clue to the origin of that name?

    • Reply
      Sherry Cole Dockery
      August 21, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      My Great Uncle was Thomas Byers Hyde, brother of Amanda Hyde Truett. Everyone pronounced his name as ‘Bars’. He also went by T.B. Hyde. Apparently, Amanda named one of her sons ‘Byers’ after her brother.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 20, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Most of us do not have the perspective to understand how much we as a society have come to depend on the government for things that used to be done individually, by families and/or by the community. Neither the dependence nor the lack of understanding it are good things.

    By the way, the question was asked the other day, “Who was the first president to be born in a hospital?” I was shocked at the answer. It was Jimmy Carter.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 20, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Big families! I have to say that is more than I can comprehend. I’m sure the women were tough back then or they would not have survived.
    Thanks Tip, for sharing this look into the past!

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    February 20, 2019 at 7:46 am

    I cannot imagine raising 9 kids today. How they did it back then is almost unbelievable. Wow!! Those women were tough. The laundry would keep you busy 24/7. Just think what bath time was like and I hate to imagine cooking for them. Especially on a wood stove. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

  • Reply
    February 20, 2019 at 6:42 am

    Wow, the hardships folks went through. Two words come to mind ” Love and Sacrifice” can’t have one without the other.

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