"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."
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 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 Elergy" 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 Elergy, JD Vance talks a lot about the dysfunction in his family and culture. I don't deny what he says, it's all true but I did not go into that much on this web page which first went up many years before JD wrote his book. Now, had I known I could have gotten a best selling book and movie deal out of spilling the soup beans on all my drunk crazy hillbilly relatives.....I would have gladly done so! LOL
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.
Some say, "It takes one to know one." When I was student teaching in the Detroit area I met a, dedicated young teacher named Karen Johnson and I kept getting the feeling that I knew her from somewhwere, she had an American Indian dream catcher hanging from her rear view mirror...so did I. She drove a 4x4 truck....so did I. She had a gray cotton sweater with a slit and 2 or 3 buttons at the top....I had the same exact sweater. There was something was familiar about her, I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I once thought I her a little twang in the way she spoke. Then one day she said the magic words to me..."poke salet"
Poke salet, AKA polk salad, and several other spellings is basically wild spinich and is an Appalachian dish known only to people of a "hillbilly" background.
Karen knew what polk salet was and how to cook it because her father, Doug Johnson of Bakersville North Carolina was from Appalachia as my father was.
Everyone knows about biscuits and gravy, corn bread, a few know about soup beans but outside of my family, Karen was the only person I ever met that knew
about the Hillbilly dish called poke salet which I remember eating as a kid growing up in Detroit. Karen's family lived at 4585 Buckingham in Warren Michigan. We lived at 4151 Buckingham in Detroit Michigan. Both houses were right next to a school...and we both went into education. Being raised under very similar conditions we turned out pretty much the same. I decided that Karen was my female hillbilly twin. LOL
While researching this project discovered that 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.
||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 Louise Henson Sanders. Charles and Louise both worked on the assembly line at Chrysler.|
|My father on the left, Matt Fletcher in Manchester Kentucky 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.|
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 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.
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.
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. Not all Appalachians speak slowly but they do all draw out their vowels.
When I was young 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. Boots would impersonate my dad while standing there in our yard waving her arms and say: " 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 cooom ta Deee-troit..... Looord haaave meeercy boooys ain't yens huuungreee?, I reckon yens is staaarved......geeet ya some theeem baiiins & taaaters ta eeeat young-ins" ....and we'd all laugh. Mom came to Detroit as a child and her accent wasn't nearly as thick.
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. I didn't start college until I was 21 and it was a long hard road for someone like me who was totally 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.
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 out parents and grandparents and other extended family. We ate strange foods, 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.
In the late 1950s my grandfather was caught making moonshine in a house in Detroit and spent several years in federal prison. He later became a foremen at one of the roughest car factories in Detroit...a place called "Budd Wheel" which was a U.A.W. supplier for Chrysler....oops, I mean "Chrysler's"! My grandfather got my cousin Tommy Jones a job at Budd Wheel but Tommy quit and came back to work for my dad and eventually went back to Kentucky.
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" so one late summer, 100 degree day, and at the last minute, I went and stood in a huge line to sign up for 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 classes...which I later dropped because I just 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 I eventually graduated cum laude from Macomb Community College where I was in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, then graduated cum laude from the University of Detroit with a degree in advertising. And with no help from anyone, I was lucky enough to land a job at Automotive News, Yaffee And Company Advertising and finally in the marketing department of General Motors.
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 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 I later quit, got my Masters Degree and taught elementary as well as high school construction.
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? At left is my ID picture from my first day at General Motors. When my dad passed away he didn't own a suit to be buried in. So, we took my dad back to Kentucky and buried him in the suit I am wearing in the picture. My first suit was part of one of the happiest days of my life and one of the saddest. Life is full of cruel irony.
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 she gave us about 5-7 years and we'd be divoriced and she was going to move back to Colorado. She said we are two very different people, she is a girly girl who likes shopping malls and I like secluded quiet nature areas. I get up at the crack of dawn and she is a night owl who sleeps in unless she has to go to work. She likes music concerts and crowds of people, I hate 'em and again I like quiet nature areas, working in the garden, fishing. I am a Scotch Irish English 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. I met her at work at General Motors and so far, we have been together 25 years. Here she is on a fishing charter that I convinced her go on with me on the Great Lakes. It's hard to get her outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. My dad and I were avid fishermen back in the day and it's something I need to do more of. I love having my own business of 17 years but, I work too much.
In his book, Hillbilly Elergy, JD Vance says he and his sister married outside the hillbilly culture and that was the best thing they ever did and were able to stay married. Many of the hillbilly to hillbilly marriages they knew of ended fairly soon. 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 a reflection of them. I know, my wife and I are very different but our values are the same, we are both fairly intelligent, educated and neither one of us has any major malfunctions. Neither one of is an alcoholic, pot head, spend-oholic, or has a gambling problem....like a lot of people we have known. A lot of her friends are on their second or third husband and she is stuck with me.
I never liked working at General Motors and actually quit that “dream job” to go back to be a teacher. I just wasn't cut out to sit at a desk all day but did it for seven long years. As a teacher I taught elementary school, middle school summer math and high school construction and we built real houses in our program. I loved teaching but there was also a tremendous amount of nepotism in the school district I was in. Several fellow teachers told me that all school districts were run on nepotism. Even some of the teachers that told me about the nepotism had gotten their jobs based on who they were related to. After two years I was laid off from teaching along with ten other people before I had my tenure and was then replaced by one of the very unqualified relatives of a local city politician who was also close friends with the city mayor.
I was in a rotten school district: One of my colleagues showed up for school drunk one day and they actually called the cops on him. It's nearly impossible to fire a tenured teacher and they talked him into resigning. A relative of a city politician got that job as well.
Another teacher....a female was caught sleeping with a male student and she also resigned and lost her teaching license, she now has a criminal record and can never teach again.
Several teachers allowed poker playing in the classroom to keep the kids busy and so they wouldn't have to actually teach....I saw that with my own eyes.
One day I got a call from the chief of police for the city. It seemed one of his police officers, a teacher and a school administrator had gotten some very nice sheds which the kids had built in class. The police wanted to know what I knew about it since I worked in the building and saw the other teacher and officer load and haul away the sheds. I told what I knew and that I was told they had "paid for the sheds"......but it turned out that the sheds were worth about $1800 and they only paid $200 for them. Is that stealing? A criminal lawyer friend of mine said it was felony theft....but it was all swept under the rug and I never heard about it again. I never saw nonsense like this during my days at General Motors or anywhere else for that matter and in retrospect, getting laid off was actually the best thing that could have happened. Being an educator was not what I expected. In the photo is myself and a student posing in front of a house were were building.
I have remained active in construction education in Michigan through the Michigan Industrial Technology and Education Society (MITES) and Wayne State's Construction Management program because I love education and I love construction which can provide so many good paying jobs for Americans. I always loved construction but loving education was something that I grew into. Here I am volunteering as a judge at a MITES event. I have also been a guest lecturer at Wayne State and Macomb Community College.
This is my chance to plug my business. When I went back to school to be a teacher I started a little business inspecting houses because I had a lot of renovation experience and a realtor suggest that I would be a good inspector... and needed the money! The last full year I taught, I made $8,000 doing inspection on the weekends and summer. I remember one weekend I did 4 inspections at $250 each....I made a thousand dollars....over the weekend! After two years of teaching I was laid off in June along with ten other people
and instead of applying for teaching jobs and substitute teaching for peanuts, I decided to work on my business. That first calendar year I made $27,000 inspecting part time from January to my June lay-off date.... and then full time from the June lay-off to December. I had more than trippled my income in six months of working at it full time and I never looked back. After working 14 hours, 7 days per week for 18 months I was making a little more than I would as a teacher. If I still sound mad about the way I was treated by my school district, all I can say is....Hell have no fury like a hillbilly scorned.....as Me-maw Vance would say in Hillbilly Elergy....."Fuck 'em!" LOL.
I completed my Masters Degree in teaching even though I had no plans to return to teaching. After completing my Masters Degree, I was taking another class at Macomb Community College to complete my Associates Degree in construction science which changed the direction of my business. One of my professors was a really great person named Joe Vaglica, PE and professor of construction management at Wayne State University and civil engineering at Macomb Community College. Joe and I went into business together. I flew to Nashville for a week long introduction course in commercial inspections per ASTM engineering standards and Joe taught me what he knew. I do the marketing, we both do the inspections and Joe and we write a reports, Joe seals the report with his Professional Engineer (PE) stamp and we split the money. Far more profitible that just inspecting houses. Real estate has always been good to me and like I said, being laid off from teaching was the best thing that ever happened to me. Belle Isle Engineering.
Joe is from Sicily and still has a villa there. Joe and his wife invited Yvonne and I to visit. While in Sicily I realized why Joe and I became fast friends. Sicilians are Italian hillbillies! Lots if little towns and farms there, they cook outdoors, raise gardens, pick and eat fruits and vegtables right off the vine in their yard.
Okay, the end. That is my odyssey from Detroit, hillbilly uneducated white trash, to a General Motors marketing exective, to teacher, to owning my own business just like my daddy did. I came full circle. I am working on a web page called, "How to make a great living as a private commercial building and home inspector.
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 syblings 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.
Before I was born, my father used to shuttle migrate back and forth between Detroit and Manchester Kentucky to see his mom and other relatives. His dad had passed away but dad made frequent trips to see the other kin folks.
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. We could be Greek or Italian for all I know. A few Italian immigrants ended up in Appalacia. Granny Fletcher's hair was very dark brown or black as was my fathers 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. 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.
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 taken in Knox County Kentucky about 1963. I imagine this was my very first trip to Kentucky.
||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 Appalachain accent and used copenhagen chewing tobacco. Granny generally used a soup can as her spit cup. She had a pronounced hunch back due to age and this embarrased the heck 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.|
sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher
Same night as the one above in Knox County Kentucky about 1967, that's my cousin, Johnny Wayne Sanders, 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.
sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcherA 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. As soon as Tommy's dad earned enough to buy a farm, they moved back to Kentucky in the 1970sand we would often visit them as well as other family members. Tommy's dad is still alive and still living on that farm today.
sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcherBack in Kentucky about 1973 visiting relatives during Memorial Day or "Decoration Day" as they call it "down home" in Appalachia. From left, Beve Fletcher in glasses, Tommy jones, me, Doug Fletcher, Wayne Jones and my dad in the mustache. Notice how much smaller I am than my cousins. I was a 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 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, 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.
||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.|
||Mid 1970s photo of Great Aunt Mandy Henson, daughter of Granny Henson, sister to my grandmother on mom's side of the family. 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.|
sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcherLittle Bull Run Holler Kentucky, about 1978. Wayne Jones, Michael Fletcher, myself, and Tommy Jones. Fixing up the Kentucky farm house that Tommy Jones and his family 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. This is pretty common in the mountains and was never a sanitary issue since they had a large farm and the waste was a good distance 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 on my cousin's farm. Again, Chad Berry PhD refers to shuttle migration in his great book called, Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles.
sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcherHoward 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 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 shanking the jar with cow's milk with our hands while watching TV or sitting on the porch shooting the guns. Eventually we got butter.
******************* Little bull run knowx county kentucky PICTURES SET AT 280 X 280 ******************
sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcher
A Visit "Down home" To See My Cousin Tommy Jones
web data notes: Freeman Noe, Lynda Roberts Manchester kentucky, Jake Roberts Manchester Kentucky. judy sharp, renee sharp, frank sharp, buckingham rd. detroit michigan,
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
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.
If you don't know the song, go on YouTube and watch and listen to all the various versions of the haunting song, "You'll Never Leave Haraln Alive" "It's there I read on a hillside gravestone, you'll never leave Harlan alive." Fletcher family cemetery/graveyard on Pennington Road in Manchester Kentucky.
Many of the dead folks in this cemetery actually did leave Kentucky but wanted to be brought back and Buried here. The dark gravestone on the righ is my dad's. edurined eioplop
Conclusions and observations: When I look at the pictures of our family plot I think of the song at the top of this page, "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" and wonder if that is such a bad thing. I guess you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't leave the holler. It's hard to leave your home and friends and adjusting to city life is difficult. However, remaining in the holler can make a person regret never having tired making more for themselves and their family in the big city.
A heck of a lot of people came from Appalachia to Detroit looking for work and a better life and they brought their culture with them and I share this culture with people in Detroit and Appalachia. Sharing a background with someone can make you have fond feelings for them. When I was younger I never thought of the Appalachian "Hillbilly Culture" as a culture at all but more of an obstacle to overcome. All of my immediate and extended family were from Appalachia and being immersed in Appalachian culture in Detroit shapes who you become later in life. I believe that the way I speak, my mannerisms, the love I have for the outdoors, 4x4 trucks, and planting a vegtable garden all go back to my up-bringing rooted in Appalachian farming culture. Like it or not, your background shapes who you become.
Teachers And ResearchersI 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
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. I do update this page when I receive new information and to practice my programming skills. 313-510-0284, DetroitHomeInspector@yahoo.com 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."
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.
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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
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.
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. 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!" 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.
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 countyNone 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 who does not agree that Thomas A. Fletcher, Rev. War vet is not of my line, claiming instead that Thomas A. Was of HIS line. I pointed to my mountain of evidence showing Thomas A. Fletcher lived in Kyles Ford where I can trace my family to, the wills, a Fletcher grave yard, the land grants, the census data, and asked my fellow researcher what evicence he had....he didn't have any.
With that said, I think my Fletcher line goes like this:
Generation No. 1 The Early 1700s
i. JOHN P.2 FLETCHER, b. Abt. 1795; d. 03 Oct 1844, Hawkins County,Tennessee. Left this will which is witnessed by my great great grandfather Henry Fletcher.
ii. ELIZABETH FLETCHER, m. ANTHONY SMITH.
iii. JANE FLETCHER, b. Abt. 1780; m. DELANY AMISTED HERRON; b. Abt. 1781; d. Aft. 1860.
iv. FRANCES FLETCHER, m. ? ETTER.
v. JAMES FLETCHER.
vi. MARGARET PEGGY FLETCHER.
vii. MARY POLLY FLETCHER.
viii. WILLIAM FLETCHER, b. 1777.
ix. THOMAS B. FLETCHER, b. 1786.
Generation No. 3 Early 1800s
2. JOHN P.2 FLETCHER (THOMAS A.1) 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.
More About JOHN FLETCHER and CATHERINE CURRY:
Marriage: Abt. 1815
Children of JOHN FLETCHER and CATHERINE CURRY are:
i. HENRY FLETCHER, b. Abt. 1812, Tazewell,Virginia.
ii. MARY POLLY FLETCHER, b. 1814; m. JAMES DAVID SMITH; b. 1811.
iii. WILLIAM FLETCHER, b. Abt. 1815.
iv. SUSAN FLETCHER, b. 25 Jun 1816; d. Bef. 1900; m. WILLIAM MABE; b. 27 Jul 1813; d. 04 Apr 1896.
v. JOHN W. FLETCHER, b. 1819, North Carolina.
vi. ROBERT FLETCHER, b. 1820.
vii. ORPHA FLETCHER, b. 1822; m. WILLIAM A. HICKS.
ix. CLARA FLETCHER, b. 1825; m. STERLING MITCHELL; b. 1822.
x. FRANCIS FRANKY FLETCHER, b. 1829.
xi. JAMES FLETCHER, b. 1831.
xii. MAHALA FLETCHER, b. 1833, Hancock County,Tennessee; d. 10 Mar 1906, Knoxville,Tennessee (Knox
Notes about John and Catharine. One transcription of John Fletcher's will, his wife is called Christine. That is incorrect. We went to Kyles Ford and copied the hand written will on file in the courthouse. The will clearly says Catharine and not Christene. It is this will of John that links him to Henry Fletcher of the Kyles Ford region.
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) currently owns the land where I found the Fletcher Graveyard. 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 which bothered me but then I realized that Henry also had a Brother named John. The John Fletcher mentioned in the land deeds with Henry MAY be his brother John.
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.
Generation No. 4 Mid 1800s
Children of HENRY FLETCHER and CELIA BUNCH:
i. CATHERINE FLETCHER, b. 1838.
ii. WM WILLIAM FLETCHER, b. 1839.
iii. WILSON FLETCHER, b. 1841.
iv. MARY ANN (Polly Ann) FLETCHER, b. 1844.
v. 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
vi. JOHN FLETCHER, b. 1850. Is this John Jesse Fletcher buried in Kyles Ford? Dates are off.
vii. 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. I found the graves of JJohn 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. 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 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.
Kyles Ford Video
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. 5 Late 1800s
CHILDREN OF wILSON FLETCHER and MARY "POLLY" JOHNSON? see the census documents here
Children of WILSON FLETCHER and POLLY JOHNSON? are:
i. JOHN FLETCHER, b. Jun 1866, Clay County,Kentucky.
ii. MARTHA FLETCHER, b. Jul 1870, Tennessee; d. Abt. 1914, Manchester,Kentucky (Clay County).
iii. 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.
Generation No. 6 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
iii. Mary Anna (died at age 5)
iv Catherine (died about age 17)
x. William jr
xii. John Crit
Generation No. 7
CHILDREN OF MATT FLETCHER AND WILMA SANDERS FLETCHER
The Timeline Works
If Thomas A. was born about ..........................................1749 according to census and war records.
John Fletcher would have been born about ...............................1780 according to census records.
Henry was born about .....................................................1811 according to census records.
Wilson born about ..........................................................1846 accroding to census records.
W.M.Fletcher born ..........................................................1881 according to his headstone.
Matt Fletcher (my father) was born in............................. 1927 according to his birth certificate.
The timeline works, I have the right names, right time, right place and a good but not conclusive paper-trail. I think one of the most convincing pieces of evidence that Thomas A. is in my direct line is the fact that no other lines have claimed him. I even found one genealogy website which said, "to which line does Thomas A. Fletcher belong?" I know that several researchers have unsucessfully searched for connections to him. That fact that no other researchers found a link to Thomas A., is yet another indicator that he is of my line.
Manchester Kentucky Video
Amanda Fletcher Keith and John Crit Fletcher are my last two living uncle and aunt. They were 2 of 12 children born to W.M. and Myrtle Fletcher of Manchester Kentucky located in Clay county. Amanda has since passed away. She 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