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.
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.
Photo: Corn on the left, beans on the right, Manchester Kentucky.
This is a story about love and hate. Some say love and hate are different sides of the same coin. I believe that. Appalachian people loved Appalachia and hated to leave. They hated Detroit but loved good pay and the better lifestyle it offered. My parents also left Kentucky and moved to Detroit in search of a better life. They were from southeastern Kentucky, Knox and Clay couties where the land is pretty much straight up and down. The farther you go east into North Carolina the bigger the mountains get. 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
Some say, "It takes one to know one." When I was student teaching in the Detroit area I met Karen Johnson and I kept getting the feeling that
I knew her from somewhwere,
something was familiar about her, I couldn't quite put my finger on it. 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. 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. "Poke" was not as uncommon as I thought and I found the photo at left of canned poke salet on the web.
Karen and I had very similar backgrounds in the way our fathers migrated from Appalachia to Detroit and out of curiosity I went back into the little family information I had and looked to see if we were related to the Johnsons in some way. We weren't, I never found a link between the line of Douglas Eugene Johnson of Bakersville North Carolina and my Wilson Fletcher line from Manchester kentucky and Kyles Ford Tennessee but one thing led to another, I had a DNA test done and years later I eventually traced my family back to early 1700s America. Men carry a Y chromosome virtually unchanged generation after generation. I found my DNA matches who had a good paper trail back to my ancestor Moses Fletcher in early 1700s Virgina is where my research ended. I then used my research to write my unit plan for school. My culture is Appalachian, my timeline is me growning up in Appalachian culture and my story is my experiences growing up in two different cultures, midwestern Detroit and Appalachian.
||Wilma and Zelma Sanders, Little 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 jobs 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.
These people left Appalachia and traveled a great distance to find work and a better life through working on the Detroit assembly line and the experiences
their families share are very similar. Hillbillies brought their culture with them to Detroit. For instance, foods like chicken & duplings shuck beans, soup beans & cornbread, poke salet, biscuits and gravy,
oranges for Christmas as well as other traditions.
Many Scotch/Irish/English Appalachian families had very similiar migration patters coming into Detroit from places like Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. They arrived on the east coast of America, ofen in Virginia. Then came into Appalachia through the Cumberland Gap and established farms in bottom lands (hollers) of the mountains. Then, during the industrial revolution, they migrated north to places like Detroit, Flint, Pontaic, Clevland, Dayton and other places. I think dad's ancestors were all English because they had names like William, Henry and Ben. Had they be Schtch/Irishs, there would have been a lot of men named Seans and Kevin.
Mom and dad were both from Kentucky but met in Detroit. My dad came to Detroit directly from Germany after getting out of the Army because
his brother wrote to him and told him they were hiring in Detroit. Mom had come up as a child from Kentucky about ten years earlier with her mother and father. Mom was engaged at 16 and married at 17. Dad was ten years older and that age gap was not that unusual in Appalachian culture.
These Appalachian factory 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 family members. 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. We still travel the 500 miles to put flowers on his grave but cannot make the trip every year as we did in the past. Also, I no longer go on "Decoration Day" (Memorial Day) because of the traffic, not many relatives to see anymore because so many died or moved away. Now I go in the fall or early spring, visit who I can find and fish or site see the rest of the time.
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 !
For instance, when we kids bad dad would say: "Yens go yander n cut me a sweetch." Translation: We are about to get an ass whoppin' and we had to cut the switch that he will switch he would whip us with. And yes, he would actually do it on rare ocasions. 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.
Other popular phrases of my dad: "I'll whoop you more ways than a country boy kin go to town." And my favorite, "I'll turn you every way but loose!"
Dad would also take me and my friends fishing and let us shoot BB guns in our backyard. We spent MANY hours shooting and still to this day I can pick up any unfamilar gun and out-shoot most people. 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.
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.
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 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 in 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. With no help from anyone, I was lucky enough to land a job in the marketing department at General Motors.
Prior to graduating college, I had always worked construction and when I first started at General Motors 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 accent got thicker when she spoke to me). I took her advice and ended up working there seven years. My background had 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.
As I have aged I have gained a deeper understaning of my background and a genuine appreciation for my culture (poke salet and soup beans is a culture?....who the hell knew?). At left is my ID picture from my days at General Motors.
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 place. 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 Kentuck 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. 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 by 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. 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. Many of my relatives came to Detroit just long enough to make enough money to buy a farm and them 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 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.|
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, 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, 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.
I can also remember during the 1970s, we could hear the sound of dynamite going off and the earth shaking from the strip mining of coal being done a few miles away. Strip mining did a lot of damage to the land but a lot of my relatives made pretty good money from it as well.
sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcherAbout 1979, myself, an employee of dad's and my dad. We are in our backyard at 4151 Buckingham in Detroit. Dad is in his famous white over-all 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.
sandra dee fletcher, linda fletcher, mathew mark fletcher, michael david fletcherAbout 1980, Myself and Tommy at 4151 Buckingham in Detroit. We lived directly behind John E.Clark Elementary School and as a child 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.
I am wearing my painter's clothes because my dad was a painting contractor. 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 realized I could gain a little simpathy for myself if my professor could smell my B.O. lol. I think it worked since I graduated cum laude. I am glad I have an education but sometimes I wish I would have just been a firemen. My parents never graduated high school, I started at a community college, and didn't begin college right out of high school so, odds of me getting a masters is less than 5%. I was too stuborn to quit and I guess I just wanted to prove I could do it like the "rich kids" did. I thought everybody in college was rich except for me.
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. 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. Eventually Tommy met a Kentucky girl, got married, and stayed there and I visit him when I can.
About 25 years later and a few pounds heavier, me and Tommy back in Kentucky on Memorial Day AKA "Decoration Day" in Appalachia.
Note the mountains in the background. Two cousins separated by
about 500 miles but held together by our culture. 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. Today, Tommy works for a fuel oil company and is married and has one son and a grandson.
Tommy brought his Kentucky bride to Dee-troit to meet us once. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the only time she was outside the Kentucky line.
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 Buckingham in Detroit. I can still remember her standing there holding it by the tail and all the neighbors looking in astonishment. We let that one go!
I was recently reaquainted with a childhood buddy and he reminded me of an inncident. 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.
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.
Fletcher family cemetery/graveyard on Pennington Road in Manchester Kentucky.
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. The dark gravestone on the right is my dad's.
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. 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
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.
This is our Y chromosome DNA sequence match:
R1b1b2a1b5 13 24 14 10 12 15 13 12 12 13 13 29 18 9 10 11 11 25 15 19 29 15 15 16 18 10 10 19 23 16 15 17 18 36 38 12 12.
The Y chromosome is carried from father to son virtually unchanged generation after generation.
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.
fletcher manchester kentucky
Our Music From Kyles Ford
See all of my fletcher genealogy research documents