This is my "Hillbilly Elegy"

elegy: noun: elegy; plural noun: elegies

1. a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead."

2. in Greek, a poem written in elegiac couplets, as notably by Catullus and Propertius.

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"In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky,

That's the place where I traced my bloodline,

And it's there I read on a hillside gravestone....you'll never leave Harlan alive."

-Darrell Scott



I am Matt Fletcher and this project was completed as part of a unit plan I did to finish my Masters Degree in teaching. The project requirements were to include a timeline, individual cultural influences on America and tell a personal story. I decided to write the project in a graphic novel form with lots of pictures. I also wrote my masters thesis about using graphic novels and comic books to teach reading in the classroom. I hope you find this somewhat interesting.

During the 20th century hundreds of thousands of Southern Appalachian Migrants (SAMs) left the mountains of Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia,Tennessee looking for factory jobs and a better life in the north. This was the second largest migration of people within the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Appalachian people migrated to the north bringing their culture with them. This was a largely unknown but significant event in American history and my family was part of this migration when they left the mountains of Kentucky for "Dee-troit" Michigan. Most Appalachians hated to leave the mountains but loved the money they could make in the factories of the north. This is a small part of their love and hate, north and south story.

You can read more on this subject in two very good books, "Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles" by Chad Berry and more recently, "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance which is apparently going to be made into a movie. JD vance, Chad Berry and I all have very similar backgrounds. In his book Hillbilly Elegy, JD Vance talks a lot about the dysfunction in his family and culture. I don't deny what he says, a lot of it is true and I have seen it first hand.

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Moses Fletcher sarah martin fauquier county Virginia Kyles Ford Fletcher Genealogy

moses fletcher sarah martin, Charles sanders barboursville kentucky, Lou Cayton, John Cayton, edenton north carolina

They Wrote Happy Songs About Leaving Kentucky

"I left Kentucky back in 49 and went to Dee-troit workin' on the assembly line"


moses fletcher sarah martin detroit michigan, Roger Moore Avoca Michigan, Charlie Sanders, Charles sanders, Lou Cayton, John Cayton

They Wrote Sad Songs About Leaving Kentucky

"Won't you walk with me out of the mouth of this holler, or we'll never leave Harlan alive"





They Wrote Books About Leaving Kentucky

Audio book by JD Vance. Listen to it quick, this is likely against copyright laws and will be taken down.

From hillbilly white trash to Yale Law School





...And when they got tired of Detroit and homesick, they wrote songs about that too.







They even made movies about leaving Kentucky

The Doll Maker...a Kentucky family moves to Detroit but goes back home.





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My Family Left Kentucky





1 kentucky
Photo: Corn on the left, beans on the right, Manchester Kentucky. This is where my family is from. If you have ever seen the movie Coal Miner's Daughter, that is basically us.

The information on this page is the product of a lot of time and effort so first, a special thanks to Fletcher researchers and others! Thanks to Marilyn Brown, John E. Fletcher PhD, Richard Fletcher, Tommy Jones, Nadine Christall, Frances Howard Hickey, Robert House and all the people I am sure I forgot.





wilma fletcher
Wilma and Zelma Sanders, Bull Run Holler, Knox County Kentucky. My mom, Wilma Sanders Fletcher and her younger sister Zelma Sanders Scourtes were brought to Detroit from Knox County Kentucky in the early 1940s by their parents Charles Sanders and Lulabelle Henson Sanders. Charles and Louise both worked on the assembly line at Chrysler and Budd Wheel.
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matt12.jpg My father on the left, Matt Fletcher about 1937. Notice the safety pin holding up his bibbed overalls. Dad came from Manchester Kentucky and had 11 brothers and sisters for a total of 12. I've always had two names. I was named Matt after my dad but growing up everyone called me by my middle name.... Mark. That is common in Appalachia.

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Living The Hillbilly Life In Detroit

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John crit white clay county kentucky manchester nunu fletcher deleware moses fletcher loudoun fauquirer county va

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mom and dad
My dad was ten years older than my mother and that is common to hillbillies. Mom was engaged to dad at 16 and married at 17. When you read about the dysfunction of hillbilly culture, alcoholism, rampant divorce and women marrying men old enough to be their daddy are all mentioned as issues in Appalachian culture. Unfortunately I know from experience that much of it is true and sometimes being educated doesn't seem to make a difference. Maybe it's in our DNA.

karen johnson brighton michigan, douglas eugene johnson brighton michigan doug johnson brighton Michigan

Another issue is the family being physically divided. Appalachian factor workers became "stranded" here in Michigan when they married and had children. Many came intending to go back south but never do because their children and grandchildren were born in Michigan and they do not want to leave the younger family members in favor of the old ones back in Appalachia. Another dilemma is where to bury the Appalachian transplants once they pass on. Should they be buried in Michigan where the kids and grand-kids can come to visit the grave? Or, bury them back in Appalachia where they often have a family plot? These are issues that I imagine are unique to Appalachian families who migrated to the north. My father made the choice to be buried in Kentucky in the family plot near his parents, grandparents and siblings. Every few years I still make the 500 mile trip to visit the graves.

Food

karen johnson brighton michigan, douglas eugene johnson brighton michigan doug johnson brighton Michigan darlene johnson brighton michigan

poke salad salet
I used to be a teacher and another teacher I met named Karen Johnson had a family from Appalachia and Karen knew how to cook a hillbilly dish called poke sallet AKA poke salad. Karen's father was Douglas Eugene Johnson and migrated to Detroit and later to Brighton Michigan from a place called Bakersville North Carolina. Many Appalachian people came to Detroit via Greyhound bus. I think Karen said her dad hitchhiked. My dad was lucky, he flew on a plane from Germany when he got out of the Army.

karen johnson brighton michigan, douglas eugene johnson brighton michigan doug johnson brighton Michigan darlene johnson brighton michigan

Anybody who knows how to cook poke sallet AKA poke salad or even soup beans is a real dyed in the wool hillbilly. When I heard Karen start talking about poke salad, I nearly fell out of my chair. Karen said you had to cook it at a certain temperature or it would be harmful to you....and seemed proud that she knew that. You see, poke has chemicals in it that can be toxic to you if not cooked properly. I have heard several stories on how to cook poke but I had never heard the temperature story before that Karen had shared. I saw mom cook fresh poke dozens of times. All mom ever did was cook it awhile, change the water and cook it some more.....A lot of hillbillies will tell you to boil it then fry it in lard or beacon grease. I didn't have the heart to tell karen we never paid attention to the exact temperature of the water, I don't think we even owned a cooking thermometer and my parents sure as hell didn't have one when growing up as poor hillbillies. Last I checked, there is at least one video on YouTube on how to cook poke and several websites telling you to NOT eat poke because of the danger. While researching this project discovered that when there was no fresh poke my mother used to actually buy canned poke salet in Detroit grocery stores up until about the early to mid 1970s. I found this picture of canned poke sallet online so apparently poke can be eaten safely.


Frozen Poke Salad

karen johnson brighton michigan, douglas eugene johnson brighton michigan doug johnson brighton Michigan darlene johnson brighton michigan

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LARD
Lard was a staple in our diet growing up. Soup beans, corn bread, chicken and dumplins, poke salad, fired chicken, biscuits and gravy. We used lard in all of them. Growing up I was painfully skinny and had bad skin as a teen. The lard didn't make me fat, we only ate two meals a day, but it may have given me pimples. Turns out that fat don't make you fat, the carbs do.

Culture

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dad in uniform
Growing up, my dad was pretty popular with my friends because he was a real character, always had a good story to tell in his strong Appalachian (and often imitated) accent. His accent was so thick that I often had to translate what he said for my friends. I didn't realize until later in life that I was bilingual ! My dad was a contractor and I remember one time a buddy of mine that was working for us came to me on a job and said, "Your dad told me to watch out for the flairs in the front of the house." I said, "huh" and asked my dad what was going on. Dad said, "Tell him to go yander and paint 'em winders and mine the flairs." Translation: Paint those windows and watch out for the flowers.

When I was about 20 I had a girlfriend that used to impersonate my dad and his accent. In the summer she used to wear those cut-off jean pants and cowboy boots to show off her long legs....my dad used to call her "boots" all the time. Appalachians don't generally speak slowly as people say, but they do draw out their voooweeels. They also say "Thee" instead of "the" a lot. I think "Thee" is from old English and the Bible. So, "Boots" would impersonate my dad while standing there in our yard waving her arms and say: " Whaaat in theee haiiil. Taaar-nation, I ain't never seen the beat.....theeem sons-a-beeetches muuust be pluuumb nuuuts.....ain't like it waaas wheeen I fiiirst cooome ta Deee-trooit..... Looord haaave meeercy boooys ain't yens huuungreee?, I reckon yens is staaarved ta deaaath......geeet ya some theeem baiiins & taaaters ta eeeat young-ins....wheeen I waaas a boooy, I'd eaaat the aaass outta a haaalf deeaad pooossum and be glaaad ta git it." ....and we'd all laugh. Mom came to Detroit from Kentucky as a child and her accent wasn't nearly as thick. I had an accent but after my dad died and I moved out on my own, my twang gradually went away.

At one point we even kept live chickens in our east side Detroit garage and always had a vegetable garden. Dad also hired many of my buddies and Appalachian cousins to work for him in his contracting business. Myself as well as several of my buddies worked our way through college painting houses for my dad each summer. We had a diverse work crew with a mixture of "Dee-troit" college boys and hillbilly farm boys. I was a little of each.

Dad was smart but he only had a 6th grade education from a one room school-house in rural Kentucky and that held him back. People who migrated from Appalachia were not generally very well educated and my family was no exception. Most had not graduated high school and no one in my immediate family had ever gone to college or graduated high school until I happened to pull it off. But they all got their GED! I didn't start college until I was 21 and it was a long hard road for someone like me who was totally clueless and unprepaired... but I made it all the way through graduate school with a 3.7 GPA. But to be honest, having a teaching degree doesn't mean you're smart....it only means you paid your tuition and showed up for class. Social Science degrees are a bunch of BS... I was smart enough to figure that out. If I could have done the math I would have been an engineer. I later started a little business and took on one of my college professors, Civil Engineer, Joe Vaglica as my partner. We were talking after class one day and I told him what I did as a "Home Inspector" but I had recently done some training in Nashville for commercial inspections and wanted to expand that part of the business. Some inspections require a PE stamp (Professiional Engineer) so Joe said, "you do the marketing and get the jobs, we do inspections together, I will PE stamp the report and we split the money." We have been doing that for twelve years now under the name Belle Isle Engineering.

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LARD


At left is my ID picture from my first day at General Motors. I got to bring home "pool cars" from time to time because I worked in marketing and needed to know about each car we sold. When I pulled in my dad's driveway in a GM company car, wearing one of my suits, my dad thought I ran General Motors. When my dad passed away he didn't own a suit to be buried in so, we buried him in that suit I am wearing in the picture. We took him back to Kentucky and he is in the family plot in Manchester Kentucky on Pennington Hill near his dad and grandfather. I guess I'll be creamated and have my ashes spread there. I do not want to be buried.

Being the neighborhood hillbillies wasn't always easy on my family and sometimes I saw our Appalachian background as something to hide, overcome and not to embrace. We all spoke with a bit of an Appalachian twang which we kids had gotten from our parents and grandparents and other extended family. We ate strange foods like soup beans, poke salad, turnip greens, mustard greens, biscuits and gravy, had guns hanging on the walls in our house and chickens in our fenced yard. As a contractor, dad wore bibbed overalls much of the time so we didn't exactly fit in. I was painfully shy and not much of a ladies man but bringing a rare girl home to meet the family was interesting to say the least so I didn't do much of that.

Prior to graduating college, I had always worked construction and when I first started at General Motors on the 7th floor of GM Headquarters, I was still pretty rough around the edges. One day I was using some pretty colorful language to express my dissatisfaction with a particular situation. Luckily, one of my mentors just happened to be from Kentucky! She took pity on me and pulled me aside and told me, " I know yer daddy ain't no country club member like a lot of 'em 'round here but you gotta straigten up here or you'll be out the door boy, I know yer from Kentucky but you caint act like at here." (Her southern accent got thicker when she spoke to me). I took her advice and ended up working there seven years. My background may have nearly gotten me fired but it ironically had also saved me. By the time I left there I was training other General Motors executives how to use our marketing data and always received very good performance appraisals and bonuses. I even learned to do some computer programming and that's how I built this web page. I really liked teaching at General Motors so seven years later I quit, got my Masters Degree and taught elementary as well as high school construction.

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********** hillbilly elegy by jd vance *******



College....Oh hell, where should I begin?

Like a lot of people, I had to put myself through college. There was never a plan or the money for me to go to college and education was not really emphasized in our home. Graduating from high school was seen as more than enough education. At age 21 I found out the local community would "let anybody in!!!" I thought, that sounds like my kinda place, so one late hot humid summer day, and at the last minute, I went and stood in a huge line to sign up for my first college classes. It took me all day to get to the front of the line but I got myself registered and signed up for my first semester...which I later dropped because I just lost interest and quit going to class. I had no direction or idea what I was doing; I just knew I didn't want to be ignorant the rest of my life. It was quite an odyssey for me but three years later graduated cum laude from Macomb Community College where I was in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. I actually took a ridiculous racquet ball class so I'd have the one gym credit needed to get an Associates Degree in general studies. I didn't want to leave there without a diploma because who knows, I may never graduate from a four years school so at least I'd have a two year degree.

After getting my degree at the community college,I got myself accepted to the University of Detroit Architecture program. I thought I was going to learn how to build things but that isn't what architecture school is....it's art school. We would have three hour conversations about "what it meant to be and artist" or "what did Frank Loyd Wright mean when he said, "form follows function???" I was like, "who gives a shit?" And the professors told us how we weren't going to make any money and how we'd basically be starving artists for a long time..."suffer for our art" so to speak. I had one professor who was born and raised in Warren Michigan and he had a fake British accent. I felt like I was getting a degree in bullshit and nonsense. Most of my classmates were spoiled rich kids who had never done a hand's turn of work in their lives. I changed my major and graduated cum laude from U of D with a BA degree in advertising. And with no help from anyone, I was lucky enough to land a job at Automtive News, then Yaffee And Company Advertising and finally in the marketing department of General Motors. If I sound like I'm baging, I am. I wasn't related to anyone who "got me in" and I didn't have a mentor or even any guidance....I made it on my own.

LARD


While getting my masters in education I learned that the odds of someone like me getting a four year degree was around 5-10% as shown in the graph. I actually have a Masters Degree as well....had I known the odds against me, I would have likely never tried in the first place. Maybe I was too mean and stuborn to quit. I guess I just wanted to prove I could do it and honestly never felt sorry for myself, I never knew the odds against me.

I guess I am glad I have an education but sometimes I wish I would have just been a firemen. Looking back, I feel like I wasted a lot of time and money going to school. I imagine I got somewhat smarter from going to college but I think I got a hell of a lot smarter from working to pay my tuition. Twenty-six percent of the general population has a four year degree and many people have "strikes" against them to prevent them from finishing college. For instance, if your parents went to college and started a college fund for you, you are very likely to graduate college. My parents never graduated high school let alone college... strike one, and I didn't begin college right after high school as you should if you epect to get a degree, I was 21 years old, strike two. And I had no idea how I was going to pay for it, strike three. My dad didn't want me to go to college, he wanted me to take over his house painting business, strike four. I had unreliable transportation to get to school, strike five. I started at a community college which is a strike against you ever graduating from a four year school, strike six.

College really is a racket in many ways. A requirement to get my graduate degree was a series of "exit seminars" where we would just listen to a Dean give a speech. I remember one Dean saying that Eastern Michigan University graduates more certified teachers each year than there are job openings in the state....and we would all have trouble finding a job...so good luck! I remember thinking to myself, "that information would have been far more helpful to me at the BEGINNING of this program rather than at the END....dumb ass." I was going to be a high school science teacher but I let them talk me out of it. I just enjoyed natural science and heard that science teachers were in demand. But I was lucky and dilligent and was offered two teaching jobs upon graduation from college. Another time after class I told one of my professors that a lot of my classmates seemed "pretty damn stupid to be in graduate school." The GPA requirement to get in was only 2.5. I asked why the college didn't raise the GPA requirement to get in. He laughed and actually agreed with me. He said the college of education was a "cash cow for the university...and just wanted the money." When I worked at General Motors I worked with computer data and I continued going to school at night taking all computer classes. The people at General Motors and in my computer classes were really smart and I had to work hard to keep up. When I went to school to be a teacher I noticed a stark difference in the level of intelligence. That was probably the single most profound concept I learned in college. If you go to college, study math, science or at least business. Everything else is BS.

I loved teaching but I only taught for 3 years and worked very, hard. In spite of coming in early, staying late, perfect attendance, perfect performance appraisals, an outstanding dedication award, I was laid off to make room for the Mayor's totally unqualified idiot nephew who needed a job. AFTER they hired him it took him five years to get his teaching certification. I wasn't the only person they did that to. That school district is Roseville Community Schools and is known for hiring friends and relatives. Some of my collegues told me what they had done to me was illegal and to sue the school district and file a union grievance but I had started a side buiness inspecting homes and commercial buildings and the last year I taught full time I made $24,000 with my little side business. I remember one weekend I did four inspections at $250 each. So I made $1,000 at my weekened job which was more than I made teaching. I always thought of this side job as my "paper route"....something you do until you can afford not to anymore. But my attitude changed as I sat there looking at those four checks. So, I threw myself into it full-time and it wasn't long before I was making more than I would teaching. However, I didn't leave Roseville Schools quietly. LOL I gave the Superintendent and school board a piece of my mind before I left. I basically told him (paraphrasing) "You are a bunch of stupid son-of-a-bitches who aren't running a school district as much as you are running an employment service for all the dumb ass loser children of friends, family and political officials in Macomb County....screw you!" And that is an accurate assessent and it felt good to say that. I had taken a lot of shit in my life and never opened my mouth but you age, you get mean and stop taking shit. And because of some "changes" in the school district and area, I am better off to be gone.

Running a business isn't for everyone, it's a lot of work and would not recommend it to the faint of heart or people who just like to work 8 hours per day and relax the rest of the time. You basically have to be a workaholic and there is always something to do. Even people who were very successful in the corporate world fall flat on their face when they start a business. But I watched and helped my dad run his business for 25 years so it was second nature to me, looking back, it seemed like we always worked. I won't get a pension so I save & plan to work until I die....and I don't mind. I actually semi-retired last year and generally just work 3 or 4 days a week. I pick and choose my jobs, raised my prices and am no longer hell bent on working. But sometimes the real estate market gets really busy and I will work 7 days in a row, 10 to 12 hours per day to keep my customers happy. My wife will say, "I thought you said you were semi retired?" and I repy, "no, I said semi-retarded !!!"

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 yvonne branson


Smart as a whip and beautiful, this is my current wife....Yvonne. I always tease her by calling her my current wife because she said she never expected to actually stay married to me. She confessed to me that when we got married she gave us about 5-7 years and we'd be divorced and she was going to move back to Colorado. She had it all planned out. She said being married to me was like being with a hyperactive monkey that is hard of hearing and has ADD. She said we are two very different people, she is a girly girl who likes restaurants & shopping malls, getting her nails done. She will go fishing with me but will not touch the bait or take the fish off of the hook. I like secluded quiet nature areas, the smell of a camp fire and eating hot dogs cooked over an open fire and pork N beans right out of the can. She likes PF Chang's. I am a Scotch Irish hillbilly and she is an American Indian/Mexican mix. The only difference between the American Indians and Mexicans is....the Indians were conquered by the English and French while the Mexicans were conquered by the Spanish, there is no real genetic difference, they are the same people. She was a Systems Engineer at General Motors where I met her and later she became a Registered Nurse and assists doctors with organ transplants and joint replacent. She is from a small town in Colorado where people still own horses, wear cowboy boots and hats, carry knives on their belt so maybe that's why she liked me. I had a pick-up truck and was a little rough around the edges.





Outdoors



dad fishing detroit river
Real hillbillies love the outdoors. Dad fishing on the Detroit river in the late 1950s. Dad loved to fish and he took us kids with him. None of my siblings fish today......but I do.



"One Piece at a Time"



mark and dad fishing
Christmas about 1966. The girls got dolls and I got my fist of many fishin' poles.




yvonne fishing
My "current wife" as I call her on a fishing charter that I convinced her to go on with me on the Great Lakes. It is sometimes hard to get her outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. She would rather be inside and me outside but we always have fun.

In his book, Hillbilly Elegy, JD Vance says he and his sister married outside the hillbilly culture and that was the best thing they ever did and why they were able to stay married. Many of the hillbilly to hillbilly marriages they knew of ended fairly soon explaining that hillbillies can me mean and vicious to people that they care about. I don't know if there is any truth to that theory or not...it seems to be more of a mixed bag to me. I have always said, you can tell a lot about a person by who they are hooked up romantically...their partner is usually a reflection of them. I know, my wife and I are somewhat different in what we like but our basic values are the same. We are both on the conservative side (FOX News not CNN) we are both educated and neither one of us has any major malfunctions like substance abuse or being bad with money....like a lot of people we have known who can't seem to stay married. A lot our friends are on their second or third spouse and we are still hanging in there after 25 years together! Who knows, maybe it is just dumb luck.


Mom In My Michigan Garden





My Uncles Garden Manchester Kentucky




poopy
A good hillbilly appreciates a good dog in their life.


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Shuttle Migration Between Detroit and Kentucky. Our Timeline

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desi wynn fletcher
One of the concepts in the migration of people is "shuttle migration" and this is basically where people go back and forth between two places multiple times before settling in one location. JD Vance and Chad Berry talk about this concept in their books about Appalachian people. Often, relatives follow other relatives to the new location. We did a lot of shuttle migration and I reckon I am a bit of an expert. My immediate family always lived in Detroit but many of our relatives went back and forth between Kentucky and Detroit. We made frequent trips "down home" to visit them.

A road trip from Detroit to Kentucky in the 1950s before any of us kids were born. At this time, my dad and several of his siblings had left Kentucky and made frequent trips back to the holler for visits. Mom on the left, dad, and mom's cousin Desi Wynn who married my dad's brother Bill "Nunu" Fletcher in Detroit. Desi had also come to Detroit from Knox County Kentucky where her and my mom lived in Little Bull Run Holler. Nunu took the picture. Nunu was transfered to a Deleware factory so they had to move. Too bad, we always had fun when they came to visit us in Detroit.




myrtle fletcher.jpg Many Appalachian people claim to be part American Indian and my family is no different. This is my grandmother Myrtle Fletcher in the 1950s. Her features certainly appear to make her look like she was half Indian as I have been told...but who knows for sure. Additional DNA testing could determine this but I never bothered to have that particular test done. She could have been part Greek or Italian for all I know. I know a few Italian immigrants ended up in Appalacia. Granny Fletcher's hair was very dark brown or black as was my father's and most of his siblings. Granny Myrtle White Fletcher was the daughter of John Critendon "Crit" White and Annie Delph. John Crit White had at least 4 wives. Delph, also spelled Delf is a German name so my grandmother was likely part German as well. Myrtle White Fletcher married William "W.M." Fletcher at age 13 or 14. William was about 26 when he married Myrtle. I think the reason so many young Appalachian women marry older men is....resources. I think large poor families were glad to marry off their young daughters so they'd have one less mouth to feed. They married older men because it took a while for a man to get the money together to buy his own homestead. All of the boys the same age as the young girls were still living at home themselves and didn't have much to offer. Some left for Detroit as soon as they were old enough to seek work on the assembly line.



ASHI Logo
sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher
This is my dad, myself in diapers and my two sisters. I was born in December of 1962 so the photo at left was likely taken in Knox or Clay County Kentucky summer of 1963. I imagine this was my very first trip to Kentucky. We made a lot of trips back and forth. I have a faint memory of me and my mom riding in the back of a pick-up camper shell from Detroit to Kentucky. When I say a camper shell, I mean a shell, not finished. I had a blanket and a pillow and that was it. Froze my ass off. We drove all night and I remember getting out of the back of the truck at daylight and it being very foggy, we were in Kentucky. I was about five years old.

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granny henson
About 4 years later... Harvey "Bo" Henson and Sally "Granny" Henson are my great grand parents from my mom's side in Knox County Kentucky. They both lived in Kentucky and in Detroit. They may have called her Granny because she did look a lot like Granny of the Beverly Hillbillies. Granny lived with us some of the time after Bo died about 1970. Granny Henson didn't have any teeth, refused to wear her false teeth, spoke in a very thick Appalachian accent and used copenhagen chewing tobacco. Granny generally used a soup can as her spit cup which she carried around the house with her...it was NASTY. She had a pronounced hunch back due to age and this embarrased the hell out of me when my citified friends came over to visit. My friends would often say, "WHO IS THAT!" And I would just die inside. Now I can laugh about it but growing up it I was a little embarrassed of my dad and some of my Appalachian relatives.

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matt fletcher uniform.jpg sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher

Knox County Kentucky about 1967, that's my cousin, Johnny Wayne Hensen, great grand mother Granny Henson (mom's side), and myself in Bull Run Holler I am guessing. Granny lived in Kentucky and Detroit. Regular trips my family took back to Kentucky kept us in touch with our Appalachian culture. When "down home" we would hunt, fish, eat shuck beans, soup beans, squirrels, cornbread, and use an outhouse. Some of my relatives had running water inside the house and others simply had a pump out in the yard and an out-house. As a child, when someone asked my nationality, I would actually say with an Appalachian twang, "I'm a hillbilly" and that is the god's honest truth. Today, I would have a more complex answer, and would likely bore the asker to tears. In spite of having a masters degree, having been an "executive" at General Motors, a teacher and now president of Belle Isle Engineering, I am a hillbilly at heart. Since our father died and we spend less and less time in Kentucky, the twang we all had as children has faded but it comes back strong just after a few hours in the holler talking to relatives.

Matt fletcher clay county kentucky

matt fletcher uniform.jpg

sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher

A year or two later back in Detroit at our home located at 1182 Gray on the east side of the city. We later moved to 4151 Buckingham, then out of the city limits which was typical of most people like us.

In the photo, that is my mom holding me, my sisters standing and the other boy is my cousin Tommy Jones. Tommy and I have been closer than most of our other cousins since Tommy came to Detroit to live with us, work on the assembly line as well as work for my dad. I think Tommy was born in Detroit, lived in Troy Michigan which was the country back then. Tommy is the embodiment of "shuttle migration" because he went back and forth living in Detroit and Kentucky so many times I actually lost count.

Tommy's dad had come to Detroit to work back in the 1950s. As soon as Tommy's dad earned enough to buy a farm, they moved back to Kentucky in the 1970s and we would often visit them as well as other family members. Tommy's dad is still alive and still living on that farm in Bull Run Holler still today...he must be about 90.

Matt fletcher clay county kentucky

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sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher

Back in Kentucky about 1973 visiting relatives during Memorial Day or "Decoration Day" as they call it "down home" in Appalachia. From left, dad's brother Beve Fletcher in glasses, cousin Tommy jones, me (the runt), cousin Doug Fletcher, cousin Wayne Jones and my dad in the mustache. Notice how much smaller I am than my cousins. I was a small weak runt until I hit puberty. I also had asthma and nearly died a couple of times. Breathing all that second hand cigarette smoke from my hillbilly relatives certainly didn't help me. I guess I'm lucky I made it. LOL We had syringes full of something taped to the ceiling of our refrigerator in case I had an asthma attack. Faith healing is also a part of Appalachian culture and I can remember my mom taking me to those southern Baptist "store front churches" in Detroit to be prayed for. I never saw any snake handling in real life but I was aware of it. I was eventually "cured" of my asthma when I hit puberty and grew out of it and actually ran track in high school.

We generally went to Kentucky in the spring for Decoration Day and sometimes back again in the fall for Thanksgiving and to squirrel hunt. You haven't lived until you wake up on a fall morning to a freezing house, put coal on the fire to warm the house up, used an out-house, had fried squirrel, biscuits & squirrel gravey, and cow's milk for breakfast!

To my left is Cousin Tommy Jones. Tommy traveled back and forth between Detroit and Kentucky quite a lot. He came to Detroit for work and went back to Kentucky because he missed it. He did that several times. Tommy was the definition of shuttle migration and had the love and hate relationship with the Detroit and appalachia.

kyles ford clinch river fletcher

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At the home of Bill and Mable Jones-Fletcher in the 1970s. That's dad on the couch second from left. These are seven of the twelve children of W.M. and Myrtle Fletcher of Manchester Kentucky. As I mentioned above, all had very dark brown or black hair. I am 98% sure that Senator John McCain is a blood relative of ours. His grandmother was a Fletcher and her father was Azariah D. Fletcher who was from Kyles Ford Tennessee...the very same placed I traced my Fletcher kin to. John McCain had his DNA tested and he is a small percentage American Indian just as I have been told we are. I never spent the extra money on that particular DNA test. My aunt Amanda Fletcher Keith in the front left, red white and blue shirt, lived to be 90 years old and never dyed her hair. At age 90 Mandy had less gray hair than most people in their 50s. All of my aunts seemed to be proud of their thick raven hair and rumored American Indian roots.




mandy henson
Mid 1970s photo of Great Aunt Mandy Henson. This was in Bull Run Holler (valley) located in Knox County Kentucky. Like a lot of folks in the area Mandy had no indoor plumbing so it was a real adventure when we would visit her. I'm not sure if Aunt Mandy ever came to Detroit to work on the assembly line or not but I know all of her siblings did including my grandmother. Many of my relatives came to Detroit just long enough to make enough money to buy a farm and then moved back to Kentucky. Living in Detroit we of course had indoor plumbing but it was the visits to Appalachia that made us "youngins" realize why our father had left there and how lucky we were. This hard life made for hard people. Appalachian people are often tough people and take pride in living off the land, being able to shoot and fight. There is also a concept known as "Appalachian brain drain" which basically means that many of the smartest and most ambitious people left appalachia for the city, better living condition, better medical care and a better education for their kids. My dad used to talk about this but I am sure he never heard the term "Appalachian brain drain" in his life. During our visits to Kentucky, we would drive our station wagon up in the hollers of my dad's boyhood and he would say, "Look at all these sorry ass hillbillies sittin' on the porch waitin' on their welfare check...all the people that wanted to work left this damn place." And other times I heard my dad say he should have never left Kentucky, and actually bought land to retire their. Like I said at the top of this page, this is a love and hate story...love and hate are two sides of the same coin.

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sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher

Little Bull Run Holler Kentucky, about 1978. Wayne Jones, Michael Fletcher, myself, and Tommy Jones. Fixing up the Kentucky farm house that cousin Tommy's dad bought when they left Troy Michigan. They went from living in a nice suburban Detroit home with hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing, to a broken-down old farm with only cold running water in the kitchen sink and NO INDOOR BATHROOM... for a few years. They fixed it up over several years and added a bathroom, but no septic tank. The waste ran out of a PVC pipe down the side of the hill and into a large pasture far from the house. When we visited, we camped in their yard, slept in a tent and used the out-house which was still in use. As a teen, Tommy came back to Detroit to work for my dad several summers as well as on the assembly line at Chrysler. A few times my dad and I drove to Kentucky to get cousin Tommy in the spring. While there, we sometimes helped set out a little tobacco and other crops, then went back to Detroit to work for my dad all summer and then brought Tommy back to Kentucky for the fall harvest and to strip tobacco. I can remember being on the back of a tobacco setter, pulled by a tractor, and helped set out tobacco plants while someone followed behind watering the small plants.

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Howard Jones

sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher

Howard Jones slopin the hogs. I took this picture in the mid to late 1970s in Little Bull Run Holler, Knox County Kentucky. Howard is the father to my first cousins, Lowell Thomas "Tommy" Jones and his brother Wayne Jones. Howard came to Detroit to work in the factories and met my dad's sister there. They bought a house in Troy Michigan which was rural back in the late 1960s. They eventually moved back to Kentucky and we often visted them on the large Kentucky farm they bought.

On this farm we did a lot gun shooting, squirrel hunting, fishing in the pond and helped a little on the farm. I remember churning butter on the farm but not in the typical way. We had cow's cream/milk in a large glass jar probably about 1 gallon in size. Cream would be scraped off of the raw cow's milk put in the jar, and we took turns shaking the jar with cow's milk with our hands while watching TV or sitting on the porch shooting the guns. Eventually we got butter.




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mark ricky matt


About 1979, myself, an employee of our little business and my dad. We are in our backyard at 4151 Buckingham in Detroit. Dad is in his famous white overalls which he almost always wore. Dad had a hard life gowing up in Manchester Kentucky in the 1930s and he always reminded me of it. He said the kids in his area used to go down to the train station and load into box cars to be taken up to Maine, or Vermont to harvest potatoes. He said they also got just one new pair of shoes per year and if those wore out, they went barefoot. No indoor plumbing or electricity in the house. I grew up beliving I was spoiled beause I had indoor plumbing and two meals a day. We never ate breakfast, just lunch and supper.




mark and tommy in yard.jpg

sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher

About 1980, Myself and Tommy at our house at 4151 Buckingham in Detroit. We lived directly behind John E.Clark Elementary School and as a kid we would often climb the 12 foot fence to play in the school yard. My parents talked about moving to the country since theiy were familiar with the rural lifestyle. But it never happened and we remained in the city close to my dad's contracting work in Grosse Pointe.

I am wearing my painter's clothes because my dad was a painting contractor. We also started flipping houses along the way. As I was working my way through college tried to stop at home to shower and change before going to class. As time went on and I got smarter, I just went to class in painter's clothes, dusty and stinking from working all day in the hot sun. I always sat in the first seat right in front of the professor because I had trouble paying attention and sitting still... I realized I could gain a little simpathy for myself if my professor could smell me... lol. I think it worked since I graduated cum laude.

My cousin Tommy generally lived with us in the summers and went back to Kentucky in the late fall while I went back to the community college to try and figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. When we couldn't drive him, Tommy would sometimes take the Grayhound bus back and forth to Kentucky and we would pick him up at the Detroit bus station and later he bought a car to drive. Later Tommy didn't own a suitcase and he would have his clothes in a cardboard box. I eventually graduated from college and was hired into General Motors where I worked in the marketing department for seven years but quit that job to beocome a teacher. Tommy grew up in Troy Michigan and Kentucky and could never decide where he wanted to live....there or here.

sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher


Tommy got married. Back in about 1986 Tommy left Dee-troit and went back to Barbourville Kentucky to stay for good and never came back to Detroit . Once there, he heard about a young woman who was lookin' to get married-up. He went and found the holler she lived in, found her house and courted her for awhile and they got married by our cousin Billy Jones. It was just that simple and today they have grandchildren. I think this picture is their wedding day...30 years ago. If only all relationships could be that easy.

tommy weding day


I worked with an Appalachian transplant in Detroit who looked for an Appalachian girl in Detroit but could never find one so he married a city girl. Not long after, he met an Appalachian girl we worked with and he was nuts about her from the second he laid eyes on her. But now he was married to the city girl and she was pretty good to him so he figured he should just count his blessings. And, the hillbilly girl was getting divorced but already had a new boyfriend. I guess she didn't waste anytime. Some people are like that... in a hurry to find love, or something like it. His crush was tall, beautiful with long brown hair, big brown eyes, so she had her choice of men and my friend thought she was out of his league and someone like him wouldn't stand a chance with her anyway. But she caught him looking at her and she looked back at him. We all worked together and they would talk in the lunch room and make goo-goo eyes at each other. I was there one day when he asked her if she wanted to have children of her own and she said she had not made up her mind yet. Well, she was about 30 years old then and her answer meant that she likely would not be having a family, my friend wanted a family. My friend got transfered to another building but he made excuses to go back and vist us just to see his crush.... and when she emailed him to congratulate him on his promotion, he happily answered and they went back and forth about things they had in common but he never told her how he felt about her and stayed with his wife who had been so good to him. The last time he saw her I was with him, it was at a company wide meeting on a hot late August day. She walked across the room toward us tossing her long hair around as if she wanted to get his attention and stopped and stood right in front of us to talk to a co-worker... but he didn't speak to her. He said he was afraid of getting fired for sexual harrassment or stirin' up trouble. He thought he had time and things would work their self out but she left the company without telling him. He said that if he knew that was the last time he'd ever see her he would have told her how he felt... although he said he was broke and had nothing to offer her. He took another job and a few years later and he and his wife got divorced. We were out one night and ran into an old co-worker who told us the beautiful Appalachian girl had gone out west and become a teacher, and married a man who was shorter than her, chubby and old enough to be her daddy. My friend said he didn't know if he should laugh for dodging a bullet or cry for not telling her how he felt about her but he realized that everyone has to try and find happiness in this life. And maybe the short chubby older man was just good to her. He said he was going to go online and find a woman while he was still young enough to have a family. I lost touch with him so I don't know how that one ended.

Then there was Daryl and Theresa. Daryl came up from Kentucky to Detroit to find a job and we helped him when he got here. He was not that bright but was a hard worker and always had a hard labor low skill job like landscaping. Daryl rented my old basement apartment from my dad for a year or two. Daryl sent for his girlfriend Theresa back in Kentucky and she came up to live with him. She was even slower than Daryl and just didn't have good sense. The two of them moved out of the basement apartment and rented an upper flat in the Detroit neighborhood we lived in. Soon they had a son but things were not working out for them. Theresa had basically lived with her parents in a holler her entire life and had never been anywhere or done anything and never held down a job before coming to Detroit. Theresa wanted to go back to Kentucky as she could not cope with city life.

Theresa showed up on my front porch one day asking for bus ticket money to go back to Kentucky. I asked her why she wanted to leave Daryl and her baby.... I asked if Daryl was hitting her, things like that. She said no, he wasn't hitting her but they did not get along anymore and she wanted to go back home. I would not give her money and told her to stay here with her son and Daryl and work it out. After she left I wondered why her mother did not send her the money to come home....Theresa's mother likely told her the same thing I did, there was nothing for her in Kentucky. A few months later Theresa was was arrested for walking into a bank pushing a stroller and leaving her son in the stroller and walking out. . Child protective services took the child, Threresa spent the night in jail and it took Daryl a few months to get his son back. Had I known she was that crazy, I would have given her the money for the bus ticket back to Kentucky but I guess she could have done worse to the baby if she had a mind to. As soon as she got out of jail she packed up and went back to Kentucky.





mark and tommy in KY.jpg Me and Tommy back in Manchester Kentucky on Memorial Day AKA "Decoration Day" in Appalachia. Note the background. That's not the tops of trees, that's a mountain in the distance. Shuttle migration was a real concept in my family and we spent a lot of time going up and down I-75 which has also been called "the hillbilly highway" over the years. Tommy and I did most of the genealogy research on our family and he is still my closest cousin today. He lives in one of the poorest counties, in the poorest hollers in Kentucky and couldn't be happier.




zelma 22
Today, back in Michigan we still act like a bunch of hillbillies at times. This is a photo of my 80 year old aunt Zelma with a coon she just killed with a rifle in Avoca Michigan. My cousin posted the photo on Facebook and said she was in the bathroom getting ready for bed and heard a shot and ran to see what was going on. She found her kentucky born mother holding the dead coon. She will likely tan the hide and make a hat, cook and eat some of it and feed the rest to the dogs. This same aunt once caught a live possum on our neighbor's front lawn when we lived on the east side of Detroit. I can still remember her standing there holding it by the tail and all the neighbors looking in astonishment. She let that one go!

I was recently reaquainted with a childhood buddy and he reminded me of an incident. He and his brother we spending the night at our house in Detroit and my mom heard a strange noise and grabbed a 12 gauge double barrel shotgun to go investigate. He said he and his brother were looking at each other, eyes bugged out and mouths hanging open. It turned out to be nothing but he still remembered that double barrel 40+ years later and said that was the first time he had ever seen a gun up close.



I Still Visit Kentucky



A Recent Visit "Down Home" To See My Cousin Tommy Jones

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web data notes: Freeman Noe, Lynda Roberts Manchester kentucky, Jake Roberts Manchester Kentucky. judy sharp, renee sharp, frank sharp, buckingham rd. detroit michigan,





Visiting My Last Living Uncle John Crit Fletcher

The last of my 11 aunts and uncles on dad's side. He taught high school in rural Kentucky for 35 years. He was one of the few to graduate high school and the only one to go to college. He died in January of 2018.

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wilson fletcher
Decoration Day at the Fletcher Graveyard on Pennington Rd., Manchester Kentucky. This photo was taken around 2006 and we had a pretty good turn out of relatives that year. But each year more people pass away, or are old and sick and fewer and fewer people show up. Several people in this photo have since passed on. It is sad to see this happen, but life goes on.

As I have aged I have gotten smarter and better understand my background and a genuine appreciation for my culture both good and bad. Who the hell would have guessed that poke salet and soup beans was a culture? Here all this time I thought it was more of a disease!



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Teachers And Researchers

I am former Social Studies teacher and think primary sources (original documents) as verification to historical events are very important. See my collection of genealogy related historical documents
  • HERE:

    Teachers who are doing a lesson on genealogy are welcome to use this lesson plan which I have used in my own classroom. I no longer do genealogy research because I felt like I took it as far as I could. I set up this web page to share my information and so that others would find it and bring me additional information so feel free to contact me. 313-510-0284, or Matt@BelleIsleEngineering.com

    The best book I have ever read on Appalachian migration is called Souther Migrants, Northern Exiles by Chad Berry. Book description here:

    "One of the largest internal migrations in U.S. history, the great white migration left its mark on virtually every family in every southern upland and flatland town. In this extraordinary record of ordinary lives, dozens of white southern migrants describe their experiences in the northern "wilderness" and their irradicable attachments to family and community in the South. Southern out-migration drew millions of southern workers to the steel mills, automobile factories, and even agricultural fields and orchards of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Through vivid oral histories, Chad Berry explores the conflict between migrants' economic success and their "spiritual exile" in the North. He documents the tension between factory owners who welcomed cheap, naive southern laborers and local "native" workers who greeted migrants with suspicion and hostility. He examines the phenomenon of "shuttle migration", in which migrants came north to work during the winter and returned home to plant spring crops on their southern farms. He also explores the impact of southern traditions - especially the southern evangelical church and "hillbilly" music - brought north by migrants. Berry argues that in spite of being scorned by midwesterners for violence, fecundity, intoxication, laziness, and squalor, the vast majority of southern whites who moved to the Midwest found the economic prosperity they were seeking. By allowing southern migrants to assess their own experiences and tell their own stories, "Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles" refutes persistent stereotypes about migrants' clannishness, life-style, work ethic, and success in the North." The book Hillbilly Elagy


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    Genealogy

    Results And Discoveries Of My Research

    dick and matt 2.JPG Photo at left is Richard Jackson Fletcher and I meeting for the first time. Dick and I, along with several other men, are long lost cousins, we found each other through the genealogy DNA test that we both took. Richard Fletcher and I as well as Rex Fletcher are a perfect 67 out of 67 marker DNA match and we both go back to the Moses Fletcher/Sarah Martin line of Fauquier County VA in the early 1700s.

    Anyway, the name Fletcher means "arrow maker" and the feather on the shaft of of an arrow is called the fletching. Fletchers come from England, Scottland and Ireland and I have close DNA matches in all three places.





    henry fletcher, wilson fletcher kyles ford tennessee

    wilson fletcher.jpg One of the primary reasons I put this web page up was so other researchers would find it and contact me with more info to fill in the blanks of my family line. Well, it worked. This is Wilson Fletcher at left. When I began researching I didn't even know the name of my own great grandfather. I found out from relatives that his name was Wilson Fletcher. I eventually used census records to trace Wison Fletcher to a place called Kyles Ford Tennessee where there was a large concentration of my Fletcher ancestors. One Decoration Day (Memorial Day) my aunt Pearl Fletcher told me that Wilson was buried in an unmarked grave under a large tree at the top of our family cemetery in Manchester Kentucky. This was news to me as I did not know that Wilson had migrated to Manchester Kentucky. I thought his son William was the one that left Kyles Ford for Manchester. Since I was not interested in genealogy at the time I forgot about it. Years later, that large tree died and was cut down, and as the stump began to rot a rock headstone began to emerge. I also found the death certificate of Wilson Fletcher showing that he had in fact died in Manchester Kentucky.

    Pearl Fletcher was right, there was a grave under the tree and my later genealogy research did in fact show that Wilson Fletcher had died in Manchester Kentucky. Years later, a distant relative named Janet Fletcher-Mattingly found my genealogy web page and gave me additional information on Wilson Fletcher including this photo. So now I knew his name, where he was buried and now I even have a picture of Wilson Fletcher.

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    wilson fletcher
    A few weeks after Janet Fletcher-Mattingly sent me the above photo of Wilson Fletcher, she sent me the group photo at left which Janet's granny had left her when she died and Janet realized that the man in the group photo was also my great grandfather, Wilson Fletcher. Yep, I agree, that is Wilson Fletcher, or perhaps a twin brother. I say MAYBE a twin brother only half joking because I noticed they part their hair on different sides. A man generally doesn't change which side he parts his hair on. It could also be a reverse image making it look like the hair is parted on the other side. That is also a differnt suit or at least a different vest. My relatives were dirt poor and I can't imagine any suits, let alone two. Anyway, who are the other guys?

    After looking at another photo I had of my grandfather at age 60-something, I decided that the boy on the left is likely my grandfather, W.m. Fletcher as a young boy. So, this appears to be a group family photo of just the men. I am guessing the other boy is likely John Fletcher, I think, brother to W.M. and the older man may be Henry Fletcher....my great great grandfather who came to Kyles Ford TN with his father John or Thomas A. Fletcher. WOW! What a fantastic find. this photo was a "tin type" metal photograph typical around the time of the Civil War. I can't thank Janet enough for sending it to me.

    These guys are a rough lookin' bunch. Not a smile on a single one of them. Kyles Ford TN was still the frontier at that time and a hard life made for hard people and it is actually common to see old photos where no one smiles and they are all skinny as a bean pole. Today, people from the area still have a reputation for being tough and mean. I have heard many a story about how "mean" some hillbilly was from one of my relatives. There is a book on this subject called "Born Fighting, How the Scots-Irish Shaped America" and one of the chapters is called, "Fight. Sing. Drink. Pray." My dad used to say, "I'm from the meanest county in the meanest town, in the meanest holler in Kentucky. And the farther you went up in our holler, the meaner the hillbillies got....and we lived in the LAST HOUSE!" (Dramatic pause). Hillbillies take pride in "being mean" which I think translates to being tough and independent....they just call it "mean" in their manner of speaking. kyles ford tenn. kyles ford tn. rogersville TN mark fletcher detroit michigan. mark fletcher 4151 buckingham, mark fletcher 5734 hereford. mark fletcher home inspector.

    kyles ford fletchers



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    fletcher kentucky genealogy



    My Fletcher Lineage From 1700 Virginia To Hancock & Hawkins Co.Tennessee

    From Clay Co. Kentucky To Detroit



    Kyles Ford Tennessee is located in Northern Tennessee on the boarder of Hancock, Hawkins, and Scott and Lee Counties Virginia on the north. Kyles Ford is in Hancock County now but used to be part of Hawkins County and that is where I found my supporting primary source documents. If your family is from this area, or you have something to add to this page I would love to hear from you. Matt@BelleIsleEngineering.com or DetroitHomeInpsector@yahoo.com or 313-510-0284.

    crit white clay county

    Okay, just in case you ain't aware, there are politics involved in genealogy. People have invested a great time of time and energy in researching their ancestry and DON'T like it when they are told they are wrong by others. They don't like to be told that they are not royalty and are instead kin to the village idiot! I try to be objective as I can. None of what I have on this site is carved in stone and I am open to different interpretations of the genealogy data and clues I have gathered. A good researcher is always willing to admit they are not 100% correct. However, if you disagree with me on some point, I hope you have some evidence to share.

    I know of one genealogy researcher named Maurice Fletcher who does not agree that Thomas A. Fletcher, Rev. War vet is of my line, claiming instead that Thomas A. Was of HIS line. I have since discovered that there was at least TWO men named Thomas Fletcher, from Pittslyvania County VA who both served in the Revolutionary War. So maybe we were both right! I read that about 100,000 men fought in the Revolutionary war so I imagine they have millions of decendants. The two Toms served under different officers, fought in different places. And the Thomas Fletcher NOT of my line had a little money and married a woman named kaziah Farris. The wife of my Thomas Fletcher is unknown to date but I am working on that. They were dirt poor but I know Thomas came from a family with some money because they owned slaves. If I had to guess, my Thomas Fletcher was likey the black sheep of the family, fought in the Revolutionary War for himself and then again for his brother which was allowed back then. You could actually take the place of someone, often for money. I imagine Thomas A. Fletcher was paid to fight in place of his brother. I am not claiming Thomas was a hero. He did fight in the Revoltionary war under two different enlistments. He is a bit of a celebrity in genealogy because of that. But, he was a dirt pooor hillbilly who died pennyless and in his will he left a single pair of pants to one of his sons. I imagine that is all he had to give.

    With that said, I think my Fletcher line goes like this:

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    Generation No. 1 The Early 1700s

    thomas a pic

    This of course is not a picture of Thomas A. Fletcher but I am pretty certain that my earliest known relative is Revolutionary War Vet. Thomas A. Fletcher. Via DNA testing and historical documents provided by my cousin Dick Fletcher, I know my line descends from the Moses Fletcher line of early 1700 Virginia. The Fletchers then migrated inland likey through the Cumberland Gap along the North Carolina Virginia boarder and into Tennessee, probably because the government was giving land to settlers. Thomas A. Fletcher, born about 1749, Died February 18, 1843. His wife is unknown but they were probably married in VA. Children of Thomas A. mentioned in his will. I have no idea who determined the birth order or years of Thomas' children. If anyone knows, please contact me. Matt@BelleIsleEngineering.com

    thomas a fletcher revolutionary war









    Children of Thomas A. Fletcher

    1. JOHN P.2 FLETCHER, b. Abt. 1795; d. 03 Oct 1844, Hawkins County,Tennessee.
    2. ELIZABETH FLETCHER, m. ANTHONY SMITH.
    3. JANE FLETCHER, b. Abt. 1780; m. DELANY AMISTED HERRON; b. Abt. 1781; d. Aft. 1860.
    4. FRANCES FLETCHER, m. ? ETTER.
    5. JAMES FLETCHER.
    6. MARGARET PEGGY FLETCHER.
    7. MARY POLLY FLETCHER.
    8. WILLIAM FLETCHER, b. 1777.
    9. THOMAS B. FLETCHER, b. 1786.



    More about Thomas A. Fletcher

    Note: I have documented as much as possible. Please click on the links to see the documents. Other Fletcher lines have attempted to find a link to Thomas A. Fletcher but were unable to. I have letters going back to the 1930s asking government offices for information about Thomas A. Fletcher. I think my line of Fletchers have the only known links to Thomas A. Fletcher who lived in the Kyles Ford TN area.

    I believe that Aaron Fletcher of the Kyles Ford TN area was the brother or oldest son of Thomas A. but died before the writing of the will and therefore, is not mentioned in the will. I believe this because Aaron was found living close to the other sons of Thomas in the census data. The "A" in Thomas A. Fletcher may stand for Aaron. The name Aaron comes up often in the line of my DNA match Dick Fletcher back in Farquier County VA. in The will of Thomas A. connects him to John P. Fletcher since he is named as a son. A "John Fletcher" and my KNOWN gr gr grandfather Henry Fletcher owned several pieces of land together. Were they father and son, brothers, uncle and nephew? We don't know for sure. But there is a near 100% certainy that they were related in some way.

    Thomas A. Fletcher was a Revolutionary war veteran. He had brothers named William and Benjamin according to his deposition given for the purpose of obtaining a Revolutionary War Pension. With the help of Betty Fletcher Starnes, we also discovered this monument in Nichlesville VA located in Scott County. Note, name of William and Thomas Fletcher and Daniel Boone in the next column. According to several documents, Thomas A. Fletcher was living in Scott county Virginia and Hawkins county Tennessee as well as North Carolina while drawing his pension. This is the area where my known great great grandfather, Henry Fletcher was from. I have believe Henry's father John P. Fletcher because land documents show that they owned several pieces of land together. This area is known as Kyles Ford Tennessee and is on the virginia boarder. Thomas A. Fletcher lived in both Virginia and Tennessee and perhaps North Carolina where his daughter Elizabeth reported being born in a census report. Documents show he went from Virginia to Tennesse to live with his daughter Elizabeth and and son-in-law Anthony Smith. As I stated, the state line between VA and TN goes direclty through Kyles Ford TN so Thomas A. Fletcher did not have to move far to be with his daughter.

    Thomas A. Fletcher, AKA Thomas Fletcher was granted a Revolutionary War pension. See the document here. It is this will of Thomas Fletcher that links him to John Fletcher of the Kyles Ford region. Thomas A. mentions John P. as his son and I can document from Thomas A to me through historical document, location and time....it all lines up.

    There were actually two Thomas Fletchers, from Virginia, who fought in the Revolutionary war. Researcher Nadine Christall and I have compared notes and we are convinced that one Thomas belongs to Nadine's line and the other to my line. The Thomas Fletcher from nadine's line was married to Kaziah Farris as documented in court records. That Thomas Fletcher was NOT known to have been in the Kyles Ford or south-western Virginia area. The children of Kaziah Farris do not match the names of Thomas A. Fletcher's will. However, is a strange coincidence that there were two men from Pittsylvania Co. VA named Thomas Fletcher who served as Privates in the Revolutionary war. I believe he began using the middle initial "A" when he applied for his Revolutionary War pension because there was another Thomas Fletcher, also from Virginia who fought and applied for the same pension.

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    Generation No. 2 Early 1800s



    john fletcher pic.jpg


    Okay, this isn't a picture of John Fletcher since cameras had not been invented yet but it is a cool picture of a tootless hillbilly holding a possum so I had to use it.

    Notes about John and Catharine. One transcription of John Fletcher's will, his wife is called Christine. That is incorrect. We went to Rogersville TN and copied the hand written will on file in the courthouse. The will clearly says Catharine and not Christine. It is this will of John that links him to Henry Fletcher of the Kyles Ford region. JOHN P. FLETCHER known son of Thomas A. Fletcher was born Abt. 1795, and died 03 Oct 1844 in Hawkins County,Tennessee. He married He married CATHERINE CURRY Abt. 1815. She was born Abt. 1798 in Virginia.







    Children of JOHN FLETCHER and CATHERINE CURRY are:
    1. HENRY FLETCHER, b. Abt. 1812, Tazewell,Virginia.
    2. MARY POLLY FLETCHER, b. 1814; m. JAMES DAVID SMITH; b. 1811.
    3. WILLIAM FLETCHER, b. Abt. 1815.
    4. SUSAN FLETCHER, b. 25 Jun 1816; d. Bef. 1900; m. WILLIAM MABE; b. 27 Jul 1813; d. 04 Apr 1896.
    5. JOHN W. FLETCHER, b. 1819, North Carolina.
    6.. ROBERT FLETCHER, b. 1820.
    7. ORPHA FLETCHER, b. 1822; m. WILLIAM A. HICKS.
    8. RUSSELL FLETCHER, b. 1823, Tennessee.
    9. CLARA FLETCHER, b. 1825; m. STERLING MITCHELL; b. 1822.
    10. FRANCIS FRANKY FLETCHER, b. 1829.
    11. JAMES FLETCHER, b. 1831.
    12. MAHALA FLETCHER, b. 1833, Hancock County,Tennessee; d. 10 Mar 1906, Knoxville,Tennessee (Knox


    Henry is a witness on the will of John and I believe that Henry is the son of John. Russell Belcher is also a witness on the will. A descendent of Russell (wife to Dayton Moles was a Belcher) currently owns the land where I found the Fletcher Graveyard. And I believe witness Polly Smith is Polly Fletcher, daughter of Thomas A. Fletcher who married the brother of Anthony Smith. Elizabeth and Polly Fletcher Married into the Smith family. John and Henry owned this land and other plots of land in the Kyles Ford area. The Clinch River is mentioned as a landmark in the land deed. John and Henry Fletcher were given land grants from the state of Tennessee. I also found land documents showing that Anthony Smith owned land in the Kyles Ford area. In his will, Thomas A. Fletcher requested he be buried on the farm of Anthony Smith who was married to the daughter of Thomas A.Fletcher.

    I found a land deal involving John and Henry AFTER the death of John in 1844 which bothered me but then I realized that Henry also had a brother and uncle named John. The John Fletcher mentioned in the land deeds with Henry MAY be his brother in some deals and father in others. .

    Also, there may or MAY NOT have been two John Fletchers in the area both born around 1795. Two different John Fletchers show up in the census living a short distance apart. However, the men were the same age, had the same number of kids in at least one census. I think they were both the same family and owned two different farms and were counted twice in the census.


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    Generation No. 3 Mid 1800s




    Children of HENRY FLETCHER and CELIA BUNCH:
    1. CATHERINE FLETCHER, b. 1838.
    2. WM WILLIAM FLETCHER, b. 1839.
    3. WILSON FLETCHER, b. 1841.
    4. MARY ANN (Polly Ann) FLETCHER, b. 1844.
    5. BENJAMIN FLETCHER, b. 1847. Note that Thomas A. Fletcher had two brothers; one named Ben and one named William. Henry had two sons named Ben and William. Married Harriet Pridemore who is buried in Kyles Ford
    7. JOHN FLETCHER, b. 1850. Is this John Jesse Fletcher buried in Kyles Ford? Dates are off.
    8. AMANDA FLETCHER, b. 1854.

    Notes about Henry: In a genealogy document given to me by researcher Ann Filcowitz it names Thomas as the father of Henry. I think that is incorrect. I did not find any documents linking the two but Henry's father COULD have been Thomas B Fletcher. I did find documents linking Henry and John Fletcher, Thomas A. had a son named John and one named Thomas. Either one could be the father. I found the graves of John Jesse Fletcher and Harriet Fletcher in Kyles Ford up on a hill behind the home of Dayton Moles on Fox Branch Road. A few documents refer to this area as Fox Branch. Harriet Pridemore Fletcher was married to Ben Fletcher, brother to Henry. See the grave video below.

    Wilson Fletcher, wife and son W.M. left the Kyles Ford area for Manchester Kentucky located in Clay county. His death record shows that he died in Clay county. Robert House advised me that his ancestor Pete House was the undertaker for Wilson. In Manchester Kentucky, my Fletcher line is connected to the House line several different ways. My aunts and uncles remember a descendent of Pete House....also named Pete House.

    Azariah D. Fletcher



    During my research I discovered that Senator McCain had a great grandfather named Azariah D. Fletcher and he lived down the road from my relatives in Kyles Ford TN.

    Azariah D. Fletcher born 1850, and reported to be the great grandfather to senator John McCain married Martha Kidwell in adjacent Laurel Co. Kentucky. I believe that the 1812 Azariah D. Fletcher may have left Kyles Ford Tennessee and went to Clay Co. Kentucky with Wilson and possibly others. Of course, I would love to claim kinship to senator John McCain but, I am looking for more definitive evidence linking 1812 Azariah to 1850 Azariah and links from 1812 Azariah to Thomas A. Fletcher. I have written to the Hawkins County Historical Society and asked if they could check local records which are not avaialble online.

    Newspapers reported in October of 2008 that Senator John McCain is descended from Azariah D. Fletcher via his grandmother Myrtle. A check of the 1840 census reveals ONLY ONE Azariah D. Fletcher in the entire United States and he lives in Kyles Ford Tennessee and living right next to my relatives! Notice in the census that Azariah is 13th from the top. Azariah D. Fletcher lives very close to Anthony Smith (3rd name from top) who is the son-in-law to Thomas A. Fletcher. In his will dated November 30, 1841 Thomas A. Fletcher is living with his daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law, Anthony Smith. At the very least Azariah had to know Thomas and his daughter. Azariah was a less common name even back then. I think all of these Fletchers living close together were related.

    bill nunu fletcher

    The 1900 Johnson Co. Texas census shows the widow of 1850 Azariah D. Fletcher and his two daughters, Alice and Myrtle. The birth place of their father is reported as TENNESSEE.

    I have been told from DNA testing, more than one Fletcher line passed through Hancock, Hawkins, Scott and Lee counties, my line of the Fletchers was in the Kyles Ford area from Thomas A. to John, to Henry, to Wilson to William. That is five generations and my line was one of the bigger families because Thomas A. had so many sons and daughters. My line remained in Kyles Ford the longest before many moved west and north into Clay Co. Kentucky adjacent to Laurel co. Since Azariah D. Fletcher was in Kyles Ford living down the road from Thomas A. and his daughter, I believe that Azariah D. was related to Thomas A.Fletcher. Some of my Fletcher line left Kyles Ford and went to Clay Co. Kentucky which is ajacent to Laurel co., And that is where Azariah married Martha Kidwell in her home. Furthermore, to my knowledge no other lines of Fletchers have claimed Azariah D. or Thomas A. Fletcher as their own.



    Kyles Ford Video





    *********************************** John Jesse Fletcher SET AT 280 X 280 *****************************

    john jesse fletcher.jpg Update: New information on video above. John Jesse Fletcher, shown at left, is the man in the grave featured in the video above. John is one of my great, great uncles. Two different people have advised me that John was shot in the leg in a dispute over a woman and died as a result. In one account, John was apparently chopping some fire wood for a single, attractive woman and another man took offense to this and shot john in the leg with a shot-gun. In the photo at left, John is holding a pocket knife which is half open. I have no information on the picture or why he is posing as he is. I reckon it was a new knife and Jesse was a wantin' ta show it off! LOL

    Finding that graveyard was a small miracle in itself. I was told that my line came from Kyles Ford TN by Francis Howard Hickey who is a distant cousin. Then I found a small mention of a Fletcher graveyard in Kyles Ford TN, I put the longitude and latitude of the graveyard in my GPS, drove there, I saw two guys standing on the side of the road and I asked about the Fletcher graveyard, they pointed across the road and up a steep hill...."thar hit is" they said. No trail, mostly unmarked graves, but I found it within minutes of getting to Kyles Ford! The names on the headstones match people on the census known to be my kin. This was the right place, these are my people. bill and mable jones fletcher manchester kentucky.

    Generation No. 4 Late 1800s




    CHILDREN OF WILSON FLETCHER and MARY "POLLY" JOHNSON? see the census documents here


    Children of WILSON FLETCHER and POLLY JOHNSON? are:
    1. JOHN FLETCHER, b. Jun 1866, Clay County,Kentucky.
    2. MARTHA FLETCHER, b. Jul 1870, Tennessee; d. Abt. 1914, Manchester,Kentucky (Clay County).
    3. WILLIAM "W.M." FLETCHER, b. 02 Aug 1881; d. 10 Jul 1947, Manchester,Kentucky (Clay County).

    Notes: Polly may have been married before she married Wilson. I know more than one Fletcher migrated from Kyles Ford TN to Clay County KY. I am not sure what the connection was.

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    Generation No. 5 Early 1900s



    Children of W.M. Fletcher b: 1881 d: 1947 Clay co KY and Myrtle White b: 1896 d; 1954 (Father John Crit White, mother unknown Delph


    1. Pearl
    2. Beve
    3. Mary Anna (died at age 5)
    4 Catherine (died about age 17)
    5. Mable
    6. Charles
    7. Marie
    8. Amanda
    9. Matt
    10. William jr
    11. Josephine
    12. John Crit



    Generation No. 6



    CHILDREN OF MATT FLETCHER AND WILMA SANDERS FLETCHER

    Linda
    Sandra Dee
    Mathew Mark
    Michael David



    Manchester Kentucky Video

    In the video, aunt Mandy is in her 70s and that is her actual hair color. She never died it a single time. Mandy and uncle John C. are both gone now.





    Both dead now, Amanda Fletcher Keith and John Crit Fletcher were my last two living aunt and uncle. They were 2 of 12 children born to W.M. and Myrtle Fletcher of Manchester Kentucky located in Clay county. Amanda had a good long life and was one of the best people I ever knew. Sadly, as the older kin folks die off I lose more and more of my connection to my Appalachian roots. I wish I had started my research decades earlier and gathered more information about our past.







    See all of my fletcher genealogy research documents
  • HERE


  • Thank you for visiting today. I can be reached at Matt@BelleIsleEngineering.com 313-510-0284.



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