Meigs County, Tennessee
Family Histories & Biographies

Return to Meigs County, TN

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excerpt from "....and the search goes on." A Moore and Related Families History.  Submitted by:
© Ottis Gene Moore  <geneshirl2 (at)>


James Moore, son of Thomas and Katherine Moore, was born December 11, 1790, in South Carolina. It has not been proven from what area in South Carolina that James came but it is thought to be Abbeville. The exact date that he came to Tennessee is not known but the earliest record that places him in Tennessee is the record of his marriage to Mary Polly Hasket, daughter of Joseph and Phebe Hasket, in Rhea County, Tennessee on December 3, 1812.

James built their home in what is now known as the Peakland area of northern Meigs County, Tennessee. At the time that the house was built, the area was still a part of Rhea County and would remain a part of it until 1836 when the area east of the Tennessee River became Meigs County. The original house was built of hewn logs and probably consisted of a large room downstairs that was used for the kitchen, dining room and parlor.

The original house was remodeled by a man by the name of Harry Weisgarber in the 1930’s. He had cut timbers and had planks made to cover the logs and added on to the house and built more porches. He had petitioned off the large downstairs room to make a kitchen, dining room and a parlor that we used as a bedroom when we lived in the house.

A porch was built around the west and north sides of the house that, no doubt, provided an area for the men to rest from the labors of the day and for the ladies to entertain family and friends. Another interesting part of the house was the huge fireplace on the southwest corner of the house. The fireplace was big enough to handle six foot lengths of logs and was used in the early days of the Moore family for cooking meals as well as for heat for the house.

A staircase, held together with wooden pegs, led up from the parlor to the attic of the house. In the mid 1970’s, the house was torn down and a portion of the original staircase was given to me. It still has some of the wooden pegs used to hold it together.

On a hewn log over the front door inside the house was etched the date, 12-3-1812. It is not known if this was the date that they moved into the house or whether it was to remind them of their wedding date. When I lived in the house in the 1940’s, the date was still visible after well over an hundred years. No record has been found as to how long they lived in this house but it was probably for many years while they were raising their family. Word of mouth history says that they built another home on what I was always to refer to as the Moore home place because my father grew up there and where we lived for many years. The land stayed in the Moore family until it was sold to Edd Edgemon and Charles Hagler. The Moore home place remains the property of the Hagler family as of today.

James homesteaded the land and started his family. On September 10, 1813, their first child, a daughter who they named Jane, was born. On April 30, 1816, their oldest son, Thomas was born. Two years later, on October 27, 1818, a daughter who they named Phebe, was born. The family was growing and James continued to farm the land. Their second son, William Johnson, was born on February 4, 1821 and another son, Joseph Hasket, was born August 22, 1823.

Their life on the farm had been a happy time for the new family but they were greatly saddened when their young son, Joseph Hasket, died on August 2, 1825, from complications of the croup. It is not hard to imagine the sorrow they felt as they buried their two year old son in the cemetery located near their home that would later be known as the Cooley Cemetery, where many of the Moore ancestors are buried. The cemetery is now overgrown and most of the tombstones have been destroyed. There is evidence of many graves, most of which are marked with flat field rocks with no inscriptions except for two or three headstones.

James and his family had been living on the land for several years and on March 25, 1826, the State of Tennessee granted him 40 acres of land in the “second range, west of the Meridian, third fractional township, thirtieth section and west side of the southeast corner of the said section beginning at the northeast corner of the said quarter.” Soon after the first grant, he was granted another tract of land that contained 160 acres. The date of this grant was July 7, 1827.

Not only did his estate continue to increase, so did his family. On September 23, 1827, another son that they named James Wasson, was born. Shortly after the birth of this son, James received a grant for 160 acres more land on October 27, 1827. By now, he had at least 360 acres of land.

The years were passing and then came more sorrow to the family. On March 16, 1830, their son, William Johnson, died from some kind of complaint in his chest. They laid him to rest in the cemetery near his brother. Soon afterwards, their son, Isaac R., was born March 25, 1831 and on January 26, 1833, their daughter, Catherine, was born. Their last child, a daughter, was born on November 14, 1834. They named her Polly after her mother.

James was not through acquiring land because another grant was made in the 1830’s for another 160 acres. By now, he had several acres of land and was seeing his family grow up to help him with the farming of the land. There has not been found any records of what their main crops were but by thinking about the time in history that this family lived, farming was done on a smaller scale that it is done now. As they cleared the land, they probably planted corn, peas, potatoes, beans and other vegetables as well as hay and grain for the farm animals.

On December 31, 1834, James bought two more tracts of land. The first one was from William McCarty and contained 50 acres. The second tract that he purchased on the same day was 50 acres that he bought from Edward Martin.

The years were passing so fast. The children were almost grown, some beginning courtships and getting married. Their oldest daughter, Jane, was the first to get married. She married Robert Williams in Meigs County, Tennessee on February 16, 1837.

Once again, the family had sorrow come to them. Shortly after Jane’s marriage, their youngest daughter, Polly, died on September 30, 1837 from cholera. They buried her beside her two brothers in the Cooley Cemetery.

In 1838, James and Polly welcomed their first grandchild, Elizabeth Williams, to the family. As it is with most families, they were very happy to have a grandchild and with this grandchild coming so soon after the death of their daughter, perhaps it helped to ease their grief.

Life goes on and on October 10, 1838, their daughter, Phebe, was married in Meigs County to John W Smith and by 1839, they had another grandchild and their extended family was growing. James bought more land to add to his estate on July 3, 1840. He bought 160 acres from Pleasant Clayton.

More of the children were getting married and settling in homes around and on the family farm. The next one of their children to marry was their oldest son, Thomas. On January 24, 1841, he married Nancy Williams, sister of his brother-in-law, Robert Williams. Thomas and Nancy were also married in Meigs County.

About a year after the marriage of Thomas, James bought 50 acres of land from Curtis Richards on January 15, 1842. He also was granted another 400 acres by the State of Tennessee around the same time. By now, their daughter, Jane, had given birth to another daughter to make James and Polly have a total of three grandchildren. Perhaps they wondered if they would ever have a grandson to carry on the Moore name since all the grandchildren had been girls up until this time.

At the age of 52, James must have been thinking about his estate and its distribution to his heirs because on October 6, 1842, he made his last will and testament directing how he wanted his estate to be handled after his death.

Soon after 1841, their oldest son, Thomas, decided to take his wife, Nancy, and set out for a new life in the west. After leaving their home in Meigs County, they arrived in Missouri about 1843.

In 1845, James and Polly were blessed with their first grandson, born to their daughter, Jane. They named the child Thomas, perhaps after his uncle and his great grandfather. They must have been very pleased and happy to have someone to carry on the family name. Their daughter, Phebe, also gave birth to a son in 1845 and they named him James after his grandfather.

From this point forward, the history of the James and Polly Moore family is hard to keep up with because of the birth of their grandchildren. Over the years they would have at least 30 grandchildren and numerous other descendants that would be born over the years. Katherine, another daughter, married James Franklin Gennoe Hoyle in Meigs County on August 8, 1848 and the family was growing again.

James was not finished acquiring land yet because he bought 330 acres from Curtis Richards on September 9, 1848. By this time his estate amounted to more than 1400 acres of land with all its improvements. His children were marrying and some continued to live on the Moore lands while others chose to make their way west to help open up new frontiers. His daughter, Jane, and her husband and family left Meigs County around 1846 and joined her brother, Thomas, and his family in Missouri.

Although James was getting on up in years, his work was not done yet. He helped to organize the Pinhook Mining Company and was given power of attorney by the company members to act as purchasing agent for the company to acquire mineral rights in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Alabama. As he traveled from place to place, he kept an expense account ledger listing all that he spent for various things as he carried out his job. Part of the journal was found in the old Moore papers and are in my possession at this time.

With the marriage of their son, James Wasson Moore, to Luiza Jane Gennoe on August 3, 1857 in Meigs County, their children were almost all married now. James lived only a short time after the marriage of James Wasson. James died on September 2, 1857. He had lived a full life, having raised 6 of his 9 children to adulthood and was able to see all his children married except his youngest son, Isaac, who married Mary A. Gennoe later in the year after his death. He had several grandchildren and left a sizable estate for his wife and his heirs that had not already been given their share of the estate before his death. His will was offered for probate and on November 3, 1859, the settlement of his estate was completed.

James’ wife, Polly, lived until August 10, 1861. Her will was dated May 7, 1860 and was admitted for probate at the September, 1861 session of the county court of Meigs County.

James and Polly are said to be buried in the Cooley Cemetery in unmarked graves along with others in the family that had already died. The cemetery is on land once owned by the family and seems a fitting place for their burial. Many tombstones have been destroyed over the years and only a few remain in the cemetery that is badly overgrown with weeds, briars and trees.

The history of the James Moore family will never be complete but new findings are being made from time to time that expands the history and fills in many of the gaps that are missing. As the search continues, each person related to this family will have more reason to be proud of their heritage and for the courage that it took for them to build a life in new territory. It has been and will continue to be an interesting search that I hope to expand as time goes by.

William Hansel and Deliliah Taylor Nelson

Much of the information about William Hansel and Deliliah Taylor Nelson has been taken from his application for a pension for his service while in the Revolutionary War and her application for his pension after his death. Records for many years of their life are hard to find and it has taken the efforts of several Nelson researchers to piece together a history of this family.
William Hansel (Hance) Nelson was born around 1753 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He lived there for three or four years until his parents moved to Rowan County , North Carolina . Hance lived there at least until the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
When the war started, Hance volunteered to serve under Captain James Osborn and served for three months before he was discharged and then returned home to Rowan County . Soon he was drafted to serve in a company of soldiers commanded by a Captain Nicholson and was attached to a regiment led by a Colonel Locke. They marched to South Carolina where he was at the Battle of Perrysburg. This campaign lasted about four months. He states in his application that after being released from duty, he was drafted again and served two or three months under a Captain Isbell and a Colonel Isaacs at the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina .
At the end of the war, he went to the Newberry District of South Carolina where he lived many years before moving to the Edgefield District of South Carolina for two years. While living in the Newberry District, he met Deliliah Taylor and on January 30, 1788 , they were married.
He and his family moved to Greenville , South Carolina and lived there for several years before moving on to Greene County , Tennessee . According to his pension application, he was on the move a lot, having moved from Green County to McMinn County , Tennessee before moving to Knox County , Tennessee . He lived there at the time of the pension application on February 12, 1834 . By now he was somewhere around seventy years of age and the infirmities of ages were catching up with him.
When he applied for his pension, he provided a statement from his older brother, John Nelson, saying that “he had served with his brother, Hance, in the Revolutionary War for more than two whole years.” Hance was granted his pension in July of 1834 in the amount of $33.33 a year and by 1835, he had drawn a total of $99.99.
From various records such as his application for pension, land records and census records, Hance can be traced from his birth in the Shenandoah Valley to his death on March 2, 1843 . The years in between these two events have several gaps and information is scarce but we have learned that he and Delilah had the following known children:
There may have been other children but these are the ones we have been able to verify through various descendants and census records. Census records show that Hance lived in Meigs and Roane counties in Tennessee at other times. He probably lived in Roane County for a few years and his widow lived in Roane County when she made application for his pension after his death in 1843. She made her declaration for the pension on September 9, 1843 for his Revolutionary War pension but by 1852, she apparently had not gotten the pension because she was writing to the pension office that she “had lived to a good old age and need the money.” In May, 1852, she had to go through the process of proving her marriage to Hance in South Carolina . The State of South Carolina , Newberry District, certified that after a diligent search, that “to the best information, the marriage took place previous to 1800 and that laws of said State of South Carolina didn’t require a record and what records were kept were imperfectly kept.”
More affidavits were presented to try to help her get the pension. Mr. William Deatherage of Barnardsville, Tennessee in Roane County, sent his statement on December 6, 1852 stating that “an old lady living in my neighborhood named Deliliah Nelson, widow of Hance Nelson, has not drawn any of the back rations of her husband who had been dead for some time and could they hurry up an do something because she had been defrauded by some person who represented himself as her agent.” He asked if any person had drawn the money due her.
Many others made affidavits as to the identity of Deliliah and as to where she was living but no mention was made as to whether she ever received the pension she had tried so hard to get. It is not known where she died or where she is buried. It is possible that she was buried at the edge of Roane County as that is where she lived with her son, Richard, when she swore as to her residency.
There are many unknowns in the life of the family but from what has been learned so far, they had an interesting life that took them form the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to North Carolina, South Carolina and finally to the river bottoms of Meigs and Roane County, Tennessee. Their family has scattered to many areas of the country and their descendants now try to tie together the bits and pieces of their lives that will give them a better picture of their ancestry and learn more about the part their family played in the development of this country.

Submitted by: © Shirley J Moore   geneshirl2 (at)


©Wayne Billings

SEPT. 2, 1885--DEC. 8, 1924

James Loon Keylon was born in Red Cloud, Roane Co., TN Sept. 2, 1885. He was one of nine children born to James Harvey Keylon, and Sarah Ann Johnson Keylon. James Loon was always known as "Loon" although his son James Marion Keylon said, "my birth certificate lists my Father's middle name as Looney." According to the dictionary of surnames the name Looney is of Irish origin and means warrior or soldier, grandson of Luineach, champion. James Harvey was the son of John and Susan Looney Fuller Keylon. Loon's brothers and sisters by his Father, James Harvey, and wife Sarah Johnson were as follows; William Thomas born June 12, 1866, Robert (Bob) b. 1872, TN, Charles b. Sept.12,1875 TN, Luther b. 1878 TN, Minnie, Analiz, Polly (birth dates for preceding three girls are unknown at this time) and John Browse b. Ca.1881. Loon's mother told her daughter-in-law, Katherine Sensaboy Keylon, that she had sympathized with "the Yankees" during the Civil war until the day they destroyed her corn crib and all the corn in it. She said the soldiers rode their horses right up on the corn and allowed them to eat their fill. Loon's half brother and sister Virgil Peter and Claudia Allen were born to James H. and his second wife Mary Haggard Ellis Keylon, who was born 1856 and died in 1909 of heart attack in Roan Co., TN. Mary's parents were Robert Gilliland and Mary Polly McPherson Haggard. Mary was buried at Winton's Chapel in Ro. Co., TN. The 1875 Ro., Co. TN tax roll indicates that Sarah "Keelin" paid taxes on a 120-acre farm in the (?) Th district, value of land-150, taxes-120 (copied as written on tax roll.) the farm boundaries were as follow; N. Clover, S. Walker, E. Walker heirs, W. McPherson. In 1878 Sarah Keylon again paid taxes on a 120-acre farm in the (?) Th district. This was Loon's Mother, therefore this farm in Ro. Co., TN may have been his birth place in Red Cloud. According to James Keylon, when Loon was so small he couldn't reach the handle for the forge bellows in his Father's blacksmith shop at Red Cloud, James Harvey would sit Loon on a big pillow on a stool to keep Loon occupied by allowing him to pump the bellows. The community of Red Cloud was located on River rd... near the present, 1991, community of Maple Grove which is 1/2 mile South of the Roane/Meigs Co. line on River Road. Jennie Kennedy b. 1856 and Loon were married in Ten Mile, TN in ----. They had one son, Arvel Roy Keylon b. Oct. 17, 1909 d. Sept.30, 1963 Athens TN, Buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Athens, McMinn Co., TN. Jeannie died June 10, 1910 in Ten Mile, Meigs Co., TN ( per her Meigs Co. , TN death certificate) and was buried at Luminary Methodist Church in Ro. Co. ,TN in an unmarked grave. (Location of Jennie's grave per Bea Hair Keylon, Jennie's daughter-in-law.) According to Mr. Claude Burns, age 95 in 1998, Jeannie Kennedy Keylon knew she was dying and made Mr. Burns' Mother, Veta Kennedy Burns, promise to take her infant son, Anvel Roy Keylon, and care for him. Mr. and Mrs. Burns took Roy to their Harriman, TN home when Roy was about eight or ten months old and kept him until he was six or seven years old. During this time they made several requests of Loon to legally adopt Roy. Loon refused all requests, saying, "you have got him and he is yours." Mr. Burns was Jeannie Kennedy's nephew. James Loon approached the elder Mr. Burns, when Roy was six or seven, saying that Roy's grandfather, James Harvey Keylon was growing old and that he wanted to take Roy to his home in Ten Mile for a short while, in order for James Harvey to get to know his Grandson while there was still time. After months of deliberation, Mr. and Mrs. Burns decided to grant Loon's request. Loon never returned Roy to the Burns home, which greatly angered the Burns family. Claude Burns contends that Roy left home at an early age because he did not get along well with Loon's second wife, Katherine Sensaboy. On Dec. 28, 1914 Loon married Katherine Melissa Sensaboy in Meigs Co., TN. She was born July 28, 1888 in Roane or Meigs Co. TN. Her parents were Francis Marion Gage and Ellen Frances Parker Sensaboy. Katherine's Grand daughter, Katherine (Kathie) Cappola Pieri, recalls Katherine said, "I had dreamed of the manner in which I would meet my husband and it happened just the way I dreamed. I had dreamed I would marry a man who was riding a horse. One day, as I was walking along the road, Loon Keylon rode up on horseback and began talking to me." Kath further recalled Katherine Keylon saying, as a girl, her (Katherine) teeth were so decayed she refused to smile and it was very difficult to chew her food. Katherine begged her Mother to allow her to get false teeth. Her Mother refused but Katherine finally got new teeth somehow. Her bad teeth probably account for her late marriage. Katherine's Father, Francis Marion Gage Sensaboy was born Aug. 17, 1855 in TN. He was the son of John Richard and Martha Dixon Sensaboy. Martha was born ca. 1829, D. sometime after 1870. John R. Sensaboy was born ca. 1826 and died July 15, 1862 while serving in the U.S. Army at Cumberland Gap, TN during the Civil War. Katherine's Mother, Ellen Frances Parker was born Oct. 17, 1885 in Sever Co., TN the daughter of Aaron J. and Catherine M. Whale Parker. Aaron b. July 16, 1828 NC, d. Sept. 21, 1914 Crossville, Cumberland Co. , TN. Catherine M. b. March 16, 1839 Sever Co., TN d. Sept. 10, 1881, Jackson's Ferry, TN. According to Francis Marion Sensaboy's niece, Bertie Katherine Sensaboy Reed, the first home place for Francis Marion and Ellen Frances Sensaboy was in Roane Co. in "Gordon Hollow." This home was reached by traveling North on River rd. about one mile past Blue Springs boat dock to a right turn onto Gordon Hollow road. This is the Gordon Hollow community. Francis Marion Sensaboy's home was on this road, on the left, between the present day (1989) white frame house and the brick house a bit further on. The second Sensaboy home was in Meigs Co. on the River Rd... What is today known as "Sensaboy Spring" ran through the second farm. The Sensaboy house sat on the right downstream bank of the spring about 100 yds. from the head of Sensaboy Spring and on the lake side of River Rd.., according to Francis Marion's Grandson F.M. Sensaboy. The original house was a two-room log structure with a field stone chimney and a fire place on the East end of the house, two rooms were later added to the South side of the original log structure. As a child, F.M. and his parents, George and Pearl Sensaboy, lived in this house with his Grandfather Francis Marion Sensaboy. The area at Sensaboy Springs was known as Euchee (named for the Yuchi Indians who were the original inhabitants, according to Ruth Keylon Ward) at the time Francis Marion lived there but is now called Ten Mile. Francis Marion traded his farm in Roane Co., TN for the 390-acre farm at Euchee /Ten Mile, according to F.M. Sensaboy . When the River Road was built, in the late thirties or early forties, it went right through the garden which was near the Sensaboy home. Early in her life Katherine Melissa Keylon and her parents went west to Ft. Smith, Arkansas in a covered wagon. This was related by Jewell Dean Keylon Cappola McNamara. George Sensaboy (son of FMGS) told his son, F. M. Sensaboy, that Francis Marion Gage Sensaboy and his family went by covered wagon to the San Joaquin Valley in South Central CA. Jewell Dean Keylon Cappola McNamara maintains the destination of the trip was Ft. Smith AK, rather than the San Joaquin Valley. Bertie Katherine Sensaboy says that her parents George Washington and Nancy Ann Pelfrey Duncan Sensaboy, their children and a Raby family were on this trip also. They went to visit one of George Washington Sensaboy's Indian friends, named Candy Mint. Candy Mint lived on an Indian Reservation and the visit lasted a few years. Loon and Katherine's children were 1. James Marion b. Oct. 19,1915, 2. Harold b. March 27, 1917 d. July 7, 1917 Ten Mile, TN, 3. Ruby Ruth b.1918, 4. Ellen Irene b. Sept. 26, 1921 d. Sept. 3, 1971 Ft. Lauderdale, Broward Co., FL. and 5. Jewell Dean b. 1924. All children were born on the Keylon farm at Ten Mile, Meigs Co., TN. Katherine's first cousin, Bertie Katherine Sensaboy Reed, says Katherine was an independent young woman who, although attractive, was in no hurry to marry. This caused Katherine's family to be concerned that she would become an unmarried old maid. Bertie nicknamed Katherine "Nig" because she was dark complected. Katherine (Kate as most knew her) was not to be outdone and named her old Jersey milk cow "Bertie." after Bertie Reed. Katherine grew and sold potatoes to supplement her income after Loon's death. James Keylon recalled that she always emphasized honesty in giving the customers their money's worth, telling James to "pile as many potatoes on the basket as will stay without rolling off, never let anyone say you shorted them." Grandmother Katherine Melissa Sensaboy Keylon was a prominent figure in this writer's life since he was born at her home. My Mother Ellen Irene Keylon Billings, my brother Douglas Evan, my sister Linda Sharon, and I lived with her for a time after my Father died in 1946. One evening as she milked "old Bertie" my Grandmother Katherine Keylon taught me to spell my first word which was "PAT.". I found an old nail nearby on the ground and used it as a pencil to scratch the first word I ever wrote on the West end of Grandmother's corn crib. Grandmother bought my first car and taught me many of life's lessons as she lived with us off and on over the years. All in all, she was the best Grandmother a boy could ever hope for. This writer's boyhood memories of the days on the Keylon farm are many, including the fact I was born there. Looking back to that time I fondly recall; there were two barns full of sweet smelling hay to play hide and seek in. There was the pungent smell of the harness room which filled one's nostrils . My brother Douglas, cousins Billy and Barbara Ward and I relished playing in the two ice cold springs where we had water fights, caught turtles and crayfish and trapped minnows to use for fishing. There were acres of woods to play in with grape vines to swing on, great fields of sage grass to run through. My cousin Billy and I once got into a great deal of trouble when we sat one of the fields afire while shooting matches with guns made of wooden clothes pins. A few of my other memories of this time are; the smell of meat curing in the smoke house, the sound of rain on the tin roof on a Winter night, being snug and warm on a yard deep feather bed under tons of quilts. As a child of three or less, I faintly recall sitting on great-grandmother Ellen Frances Parker Sensaboy's lap as she fed me home dried apples before the warm open fireplace. Later on in life, I recall the soft glow of kerosene lamps at night and the static from the large battery powered radio as we listened to stories such as, The Creaking Door, Mr. and Mrs. North and The Lone Ranger. The Keylon farm had two springs, a large spring and a smaller spring. The house was located about 30 yards uphill from the right downstream bank, and near the head of the little spring. Very near the head of this small spring there was a spring house where milk and butter were kept. At the confluence of the big and little spring stood the grist mill. The wash yard was located near the head of the little spring. This was where clothes were scrubbed by hand on a scrub board, then hanged on clothes lines to dry and hogs were scalded and butchered in the Fall. There was a smoke house immediately behind the Keylon home where meat was cured and kept. The cattle barn stood about 200 yards in front of the house. The mule barn, corn crib and hog pen were near the head of the big spring behind and to the right of the house.

James M. Keylon says Loon bought the heir's shares of James Harvey's farm in Ten Mile, TN from the heirs of his step mother, Mary Haggard Ellis Keylon. This was necessary because the farm was in Mary's name rather than Loon's Father, James Harvey's Keylon. Some say Mary used money that J.H. had hidden away, with which to purchase the farm. Mary's Grand daughter, Dike Ellis Grigsby of Kingston, TN, says Mary's Father bought the farm and gave it to Mary. The following Meigs Co. , TN records indicate Loon bought the farm from Mary's heirs; Frank Ellis and wife Susy Ellis sold to J. L. Keylon four tenths of the land earlier owned by Mary Keylon. Per Meigs Co. , TN Deed book E, pg. 280. Hobbs Ellis and wife sell to J. L Keylon, for $125.00, property known as "the old Knight farm" located in the township of TEN MILE STAND, COUNTY OF MEIGS, STATE OF TN. The Keylon farm consisted of 320 acres and was located one mile north of the junction of Hy. 58 with Ten Mile Rd... The farm was on both sides of the highway. Present day topographical maps show "Keylon Springs" beginning on and running through the farm. According to James M. Keylon, Loon's brother, Virgil, planned to go back into the Army until Loon offered him a partnership in his farm if he would help work the farm to pay off what Loon owed to buy the Ellis heirs' shares of the farm. James Loon and Virgil Keylon thus became equal owners of Keylon farm in the fourth civil district of Meigs Co. , TN. James Keylon says that prior to Loon's death, his brother, Virgil, used money belonging to both Virgil and Loon to buy a Montana Homestead. Virgil qualified for this land as an ex-serviceman. Although Loon was supposed to have a half interest in the Montana Property, he received nothing when Virgil traded the property for a T Model Ford and returned to Tennessee.

James Loon keylon died leaving his widow Katherine and five children; Roy, James, Ruth, Irene and Jewell Keylon. Katherine Keylon purchased Roy, James and Virgil Keylon's share of Keylon farm. According to Jewel Keylon Cappola McNamara, Dr. Merritt of Ten Mile loaned Katherine the money to buy Virgil Keylon's share of the Keylon farm. Bertie Katherine Sensaboy Reed, Katherine Keylon's first cousin, said Loon was mainly a farmer but he also had a sawmill and had just sold the bulk of his lumber before he died. James Marion Keylon adds that Loon also had a dry kiln at the sawmill and that James Harvey and Loon had a threshing machine and about ten steady customers in the Ten Mile area. James also said Loon had a blacksmith shop about 50 yards down from the head of the big spring on the North bank, where the apple orchard was. Loon's son, James, went on to say his Father was of average build and height, was bald and had crossed eyes and that around 1921 Loon had a serious case of rheumatic fever. His only known membership in any sort of organization was with Woodsmen of the world. Bea Hair Keylon said that around 1923 Loon, his brother Virgil and their Father J.H. would bring their threshing machine to Bea's Grand Father Cunningham's farm located at the intersection of He. 68 and He. 58 in Ten Mile and work for a week Threshing the Cunningham family's wheat. During this time Virgil chose to sleep outside in a hammock. In November or December of 1924 Loon was called to jury duty at the Meigs Co. Seat, which was Decatur, TN. The roads were very poor so travel was slow in the winter weather. Loon's Model T Ford had no heat and Loon contracted Pneumonia. In his weakened condition, caused by the pneumonia, he contracted spinal meningitis which caused his death on Dec. 5, 1924 at his Ten Mile home.

Loon was originally buried near his Father in the Knight Cemetery located on "Hog Hill" on his farm. Hog Hill cemetery is up the hill and to the left of was always referred to as the "mule barn." A small pond, at the foot of the hill, is near the cemetery today (1999.) Bea Hair Keylon said "Loon wanted to be buried at Luminary Cemetery but Katherine buried him in the Knight cemetery anyway." James Keylon says he was hauling hay on the Keylon farm around 1924. He was supposed to take it to the cattle barn but for some reason took it to the mule barn instead. As he was unloading the hay the sky became so dark that he couldn't see the corn crib which stood about 25 yds. away from the mule barn. At this time a tornado struck the cattle barn completely destroying it. Had he gone to the cattle barn to unload the hay, he thought he might have been injured or killed. A new cattle barn was later built about 100 yds. South of the old barn's location. James Keylon thinks Highway 58 was built sometime in the late twenties or early thirties after Loon had died. The highway went through the Keylon farm and Katherine "gave" the state a three-acre right of way, on which to build the highway across the Keylon farm. Jim Ed Hagler says the rock quarry at Ten Mile was operated at that time.

Katherine Keylon never remarried because she was afraid a second husband would mistreat her children. She continued to work the farm until all her children were married and away on their own. Around 1947/48 Katherine gave her children shares of the Keylon farm, and began living with her various children. According to Jim Ed Hagler, the Keylon Heirs sold his Father, Charles J. Hagler, two hundred twenty nine acres of the farm in 1956. Charles J. Hagler then transferred the two hundred twenty nine acres to his wife, Mildred H. Hagler, on Feb. 26, 1961, Per Meigs Co. , TN Deed book B-2, pg. 195. Katherine Melissa Sensaboy Keylon died at the age of eighty seven on March 3, 1976, in a Nursing home located in Dearborn, Wayne Co., Mi. She was buried in Memory gardens located near Athens, McMinn Co., TN. After the Keylon farm was sold in 1956 to Charles J. Hagler, the Knight Cemetery fell into disrepair and was in danger of being overgrown by the surrounding woods. For this reason Loon's Daughter, Jewell Dean Keylon Cappola McNamara had Loon and James Harvey Keylon exhumed and moved to Memory Gardens near Athens, McMinn Co., TN in the early 1970's. Douglas E. Billings and Jim Ed Hagler witnessed as Zieggler Funeral Home of Athens, TN performed the relocation. They were buried beside Katherine Melissa Keylon. Bea Hair Keylon said that Jewell Keylon wanted to buy burial lots from her in Cedar Grove Cemetery in order to bury Loon and J.H. Keylon there. When Bea refused, Jewell buried them in Memory Gardens.

Compiled by Wayne Billings, the Grandson of James Loon and Katherine Melissa Sensaboy Keylon. Oct. 1, 1997. Revised July 2001. Sent to: Sandy and Bob Keylon, Ro. & Meigs Co. USGenWeb, Kath Pieri, Tom Heinze (Knight researcher), Cathy Lee Ecton @ Keeling family website


 JUNE 15 1910--MAY 23, 1946

 Gus was the only child of Gaither and Anna Sophia Evans Billings; he was born at a Niota, TN address on June 15, 1910. Laura Billings Fox recalls Gus as one of the most beautiful little children I ever saw; his eyes were the color of autumn skies and his hair the color of buttercups.

Gaither Augustus Billings was born June 15, 1886 in his parents log home in Surprise, Roane Co., TN. He was the fifth of seven children born to Bayless Winslow and Rachel M. Cooley Billings. 

Annie Evans Parents were Andrew and Sophia Clutter Evans. He was born in Ohio and she in Austria. When Annie was born Nov. 28, 1888, her parents lived in a log home in the Head of the Creek community in McMinn Co., TN., which is near the town of Sweetwater 

Maude Blair Bowers recalled Pearl and I visited Gaither and Annie around 1909 when Annie was pregnant with Gus. Annie played the organ for us.  Pearl Blair Creasman later described Annie as "a woman of quality." 

Pearl Blair Creasman and her sister Maude Blair Bowers said at the time of Gus birth, Gaither and Annie were living somewhere near the Green house.  The Green house is so called by present day relatives because of the color of the house. Maude says this was a Niota postal address at the time and Gus’ TN birth certificate lists his place of birth as Niota, TN 

The Green house is standing today and is located in the vicinity of Pisgah church, in McMinn Co., TN, on the left side of Hwy. 68 at Mile marker three near the intersection of McMinn Co. rt. 292 with Southbound Hwy. 68. Twenty to thirty yards from the front of the house is the old gravel road that was once rt. 68.  

A small spring runs about fifteen yards behind the house, further on past the small spring is a bigger spring and about 120 yards from the back of the house stands a barn. Pearl Blair Creasman said the area where the house was built was called Bulah’s chapel at the time the house was built. 

Gus was four months old when his mother, Annie died of typhoid fever on Dec. 23, 1910 in McMinn Co., TN., leaving her husband and their four-month-old son, Gus. Annie’s brother, Lafayette had contracted typhoid while moving his family’s outdoor toilet and had been placed in quarantine at his home. Annie visited her brother saying she was going to see him regardless of the quarantine. Her obituary in the Sweetwater News says she was buried near her home in Blue Springs.  Several Billings relatives also say Annie is buried at Blue Springs Cemetery in Roane CO., TN, near the Erie community. 

The Baskets, who were Gaither's neighbors, cared for Gus after Annie's death just long enough to pay Gaither for Annie's organ which he traded for Gus' care, according to Pearl Blair Creasman.  

After the Baskets, Gaither took Gus to live with his sister, Myrtle Billings Blair, in Surprise, TN about 1910/11. Myrtle’s daughter, Maude Blair Bowers, recalls we began caring for Gus when he still wore a dress and a diaper. Gaither brought all Gus’ clothes in a woven wooden shopping basket; they consisted of five or six dresses which buttoned up the back and some diapers.  There was a baby bottle full of milk lying on top of the clothes. My sister, Blanche Blair, assumed Gus’ day to day care, while I took care of my brother, Fred.          

Gwendolyn Gallant Starnes, Blanche’s daughter says Gaither presented Blanche with a large hand blown glass Easter egg bearing a verse and hand painting. The verse on the egg read, So will thy heart to quiet and calm, So wilt thou gather the wayside balm.  So will the blessings of Easter Tide deep in thine inner life ever abide." Maude says they took care of Gus from the time his Mother died until Gaither married Bertha Wallis. A couple of years ago Gwen was kind enough to give this writer the Easter egg described above.   

Gaither and Miss Bertha Wallis were married 21 Sept.1913; Bertha was a few days past her 16th birthday. Bertha was the daughter of Joseph William "Barlow" and Artie S. Kennedy Wallis of the Ten Mile Community in Meigs Co., TN. 

When Gaither and Bertha were married he took his son, Gus, back from his sister, Myrtle, who had cared for Gus for three years by this time. On 21 Aug. 1914 Bertha presented Gaither with another son who was named Theodore Douglas Billings. Pearl Blair Creasman says Gaither lived in a house on Pine St. in Athens around the time Ted was a baby.  The Pine St. house was high in front and had no front porch. To prevent Ted falling out the open front door, Gaither nailed boards across the door.  

In 1914 Gaither moved his family to Niota, TN where they lived on the farm of Gaither's 2nd cousin, Amos Walter Billings, according to Amos Walter's daughter Laura Bessie Billings Fox. At this time Gaither and his Father, Bayless, built a house for Laura's widowed Mother, Mary Alice Nelson Billings.                   

On Dec. 27, 1916 Gathers 19-year-old bride of just over two years died of typhoid fever leaving Gaither alone again. Gaither was to care for two sons, two and a half year old Ted and six year old Gus. Bertha was buried near her parent's relations at the Pond Hill Cemetery near Athens in McMinn Co., TN. 

Bearing the responsibility of earning a Living and having no one at home to care for his sons Gaither now turned to Tim and Lydia Ann (Annie) Kennedy Carpenter, to care for Ted and Gus, according to Maude Blair Bowers. Lydia was the sister of Artie Kennedy Wallis, the Mother of Gaither Billings’ second wife Bertha Wallis. According to the 1920 McMinn Co., TN Census, only Gus is listed in the Tim Carpenter household. In the same census Gaither Billings was living as a boarder with David Lee and Lee Ann (Edgemon) Sliger, about 2 miles down the road from the Carpenters. 

Gaither apparently took Gus and Ted back to the Carpenters after they had stayed with his sister Myrtle Billings because Ted Billings, said that after Myrtle Billings Blair's husband, James Hardin, died in 1922 he and Gus were cared for by the Tim Carpenter family. 

Later Gus and Ted were cared for by Bernice Wallis and her Sister, Maude Wallis, who lived in Athens, TN in a house on (Pine St.?) near the Cedar grove Cemetery according to Pearl Blair Creasman. They were next cared for by Myrtle Blair who also lived near the Cedar grove cemetery according to Zelda Billings. 

 Zelda Newton Billings says that after Bertha died, Gaither "lived high and wide" leaving someone else to raise his two sons. Zelda said, Gaither loved dances and drank until his later years.  On the other hand, Bernice Wallis Thompson says, Gaither's drinking never affected his family life. 

Theodore Douglas Billings recalls going to school hungry and in rags because he says Gaither "farmed him out" to different families after his Mother, Bertha, died. He continued, "If Aunt Mert (Myrtle Billings Blair) hadn't taken me in I don't know what would have happened to me." 

Mrs. Nannie Ford Fitch recalls Gus attending the first Concord school in Ten Mile, Meigs Co., TN. The school was located between the picnic ground and the cemetery at present day Concord Church. Mrs. Fitch says the Billings boys lived with their Uncle and Aunt, James Hardin and Sarah Myrtle Billings Blair on the old Bayless Billings farm about a mile from Concord Church.  Mrs. Fitch continued saying, J. H. (James Hardin) Blair taught at Ten Mile School in Meigs Co. , TN around 1918 and then at Concord.  Gus’ brother, Ted, recalls that he also attended school at Concord.  

 Maude Blair Bowers says, Ted attended Concord but Gus never did because Gaither took Gus back before he was old enough to go to school.  Ted is in a school group picture made at Concord School ca. 1918 when he was about four years old. 

Pearl Blair Creasman says, one day when he was little, Ted was looking at a picture of his Aunt Myrtle Billings Blair, Ted said there’s a picture of Aunt Mert (Myrtle) but she ain’t got no “whicker” ( hickory switch) in her hand.  When Pearl told her Mother this, Myrtle just laughed and said, well I kept a “whiker” most of the time or those boys would ride rough shod over me. 

Gilmer Massey of the Ten Mile Community in Meigs Co., TN says he and Gus were returning to Ten Mile from Athens, via the Clearwater road, one day when Gus pointed out the location of the place where he had gone to school. This was in the vicinity of where present day (1989) Clearwater rd. to Athens, TN (McMinn Co rt. 305) crosses under Interstate 75. After going under I-75, continue toward Athens for about one half mile on Clearwater rd. The school was located just before reaching the Russell place. A house is standing on the location of the former school and there is a pretty big church nearby. In this vicinity a road forks off Clearwater rd. and continues on to a rock quarry.   

Ted Billings says, one day in school the teacher asked Gus to go to the blackboard and do a math problem and it was either that day or soon after Gus quit school. Ted said that in spite of his limited education Gus could saw lumber all day and tell you at the end of the day exactly how many board feet he had sawed. 

Harboring disdain for formal education, Gus was to later tell his wife that their oldest son, Wayne Paul Billings, didn’t need to go to school because he could learn all he needed to know by accompanying him to the sawmill every day.                                                                                                                                     

 Gus’ Uncle Bayless Winslow Billings Jr. bailed him out of Loudon Co., TN jail when Gus was fourteen says Winslow’s daughter, Estella Billings Yates. Ted Billings says, Gus drank from the time he was fifteen until he was twenty-five or thirty, but held his liquor well. The only time I ever saw Gus high was in the 30's, we both got pretty high that time.  We had picked enough blackberries to make ten or twelve gallons of blackberry wine and drank our fill of it. Billy Thompson confirmed Ted’s statement saying, both Gus and Ted drank but they never got into any meanness. 

Ted Billings recalled that as a young man Gus went to California for a while, where he worked in the nut groves. Gus may have worked in the area where his Uncles Israel and William Evans lived.  

Billy Thompson recalls, Gus had a nineteen twenty nine A Model Ford with a rumble seat. One day Gus was going somewhere and wouldn’t let Ted go along. Ted sneaked into the car’s rumble seat and eased the lid down to prevent its locking, then waited quietly for Gus to leave. Later as Gus drove along the bumpy gravel road the trunk lid bounced shut and locked. Knowing he was trapped, Ted became frantic and began to sing and holler at the top of his voice. It only took Gus a second to figure out Ted had hidden in the rumble seat and he just drove on like he didn’t hear Ted, letting him sweat it out. 

Ted Billings remembered, Gus and Jake Ward were both courting Elsie Burtrum.  It all came to a head down at the spring behind Pisgah Church one night. Gus and Jake got into it, with Gus using brass knuckles and Jake using a knife. Although he only had brass knuckles, Gus was strong as an ox from years of timber cutting and operating a saw mill.  He was only about five feet eleven inches tall and probably weighed 180 pounds but it was all muscle. When it was all over, our first cousin, Fred Blair took both of them to the hospital in Sweetwater where Gus was treated for cuts across the left chest and arm and Jake for head injuries. 

Between 1927/30 Gaither owned an International Harvester threshing machine according to Ted Billings. During 1930 Gaither had such a severe intestinal problem that Gus and Ted had to plant their crops alone. Even in this condition Gaither would make contract with the local farmers to harvest their wheat. 

Since these were depression years and most people couldn't afford to pay cash, Gus and Ted would harvest their crops for one tenth of the harvest. They then had the wheat converted to flour, paying the miller with a portion of the flour and then selling or eating the rest.  

Ted recalls that Gus had an asthma problem which the dust and wheat chafe aggravated, to partially escape the dust problem Gus drove the new John Deer tractor pulling the thrasher while Ted worked at the rear feeding the wheat into the threshing machine.   

Eighty one year old Clyde Simpson of Ten Mile, Meigs Co., TN says he knew Gus since Gus was a child. Clyde’s Uncle Henry Simson married Gus’ Aunt Cora Billings.  Clyde said, Gus once sawmilled between Concord and the Tennessee River. This was before Watt’s Bar dam was built and Gus lived in Hornsby Hollow in the Peakland Crossroad community on the old Pinhook Ferry Rd. 

To find the area today, travel west on Hwy. 68 to River road and turn right and drive about one quarter mile to Peakland Crossroads where you turn left. Gus lived on this road about a mile from the Tennessee River before TVA backed the water up behind Watt’s Bar Dam. 

Clyde continued, it was at this time that a man named Red drove a milk truck for Howard Hornsby hauling milk to Chattanooga.  Very early one morning when there was snow on the ground Red got stuck in a ditch on River Rd. near where Gus lived.  At that time Gus had the only tractor in Ten Mile, it was a steel Wheeled two cylinder John Deere which you started by spinning the flywheel. 

Red walked to Gus’ house and hollered him out of bed saying I’m stuck in a ditch and can’t get out. Gus replied, well wait till I get me some clothes on and we’ll go down and pull it out.  Red said, That was the first tractor I’d ever seen and once Gus cranked it I thought to myself, that thing is missing, it’s only hitting on two cylinders so it will never pull me out and right there we are both stuck.  By this time Gus was ready to go and told Red, get on and let’s go! 

Red said, when we got to the truck, Gus hooked the tractor to it and just pulled it right out and that tractor never did hit on but two cylinders, and the engine made a SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT noise.  I come to find out it just had two cylinders to start with.     

Billy Thompson doesn’t recall Gus ever living in the Peakland area and thinks Gus probably lived in the house on Clearwater Rd. at the time of the foregoing tractor story. 

According to Billy Thompson, who married Bertha Wallis' sister Bernice, Gaither bought a large tract of timber on the old Cunningham place in Ten Mile around 1928. Gaither and his two sons, Gus and Ted, lived on the 600 acre Cunningham farm in a house they rented from the Cunninghams.  

The house they lived in is located on the right side of Hwy. 58 immediately past the intersection with Hwy. 68 when driving South in Meigs Co., TN. The Billings family remained here four or five years. Bernice Wallis lived with Gaither and his two sons, keeping house for them, until she married Billy Thompson.  

James Marion Keylon, Gus’ brother-in-law, thinks it was about this time (1928) that Gus met Molly Hair who lived with her parents, Ruben and Edna Cunningham Hair, in her Grandmother Cunningham's home,  Molly probably thought Gus intended to marry her since they had gone together for three or four years and the relationship had became intimate. 

Ted Billings said that in his and Gus' younger years Gaither owned a steam powered sawmill that he bought from his brother Bayless Winslow (Wins) Billings Jr. A lot of time was spent providing wood and water for the boiler, therefore, in 1928 Gaither traded it for a new sawmill and a new John Deere tractor, which had steel wheels. This was used to power the sawmill, pull the threshing machine and anything else it could be used for. 

Ted Billings said, It was Dad’s (Gaither's) habit to operate the sawmill September through June sawing lumber which was stacked to dry as it was sawed.  The lumber was hauled from July through August to a local lumber yard and sold, long oak boards with very few knots bringing $16.00 per 1,000 board ft. 

Ted also recalled, I worked for Gus at the sawmill in the nineteen thirties for a twist of tobacco a day. I remember one day in particular when the drive belt from the tractor to the sawmill broke and commenced slapping the ground with terrifying force on each revolution.  I ran toward the tractor to shut the engine off but was knocked down when the slapping belt threw a rock which hit me on the leg.  I thought my leg was broken but managed to get back up, stumble to the tractor and shut it off. Gus came running over and commenced to chew me out for having allowed the belt to come off in the first place. I never said a word, just turned and limped away. I never spoke to Gus for the next fourteen years, except when absolutely necessary. 

Bernice Wallis Thompson said "I can tell you that Gaither, Gus and Ted were good and honorable men" Bernice knew the  men well because she lived with them at the Cunningham place keeping house for them until she married Billy Thompson.  

Bernice continued, Gaither loved his music and was a really good banjo player as was Gus, Ted played the guitar. Bernice’s husband, Billy Thompson, added "they (Gaither, Gus and Ted) loved a good time, so this and their music led to having dances at their house pretty often. They drank a little, not too much, just enough to have a good time. Neighbors came from far and near to dance and have a good time. 

Bea Hair Keylon, Molly's sister, said it got pretty loud at the Billings' home during the parties. Bea was the daughter of Ruben and Edna Cunningham Hair and was living with her parents at her Grandmother Cunningham's which was only a stones throw from the Billings home.  

Bea said her Grandmother Cunningham had a lot of money but her Uncle Lije Cunningham "ran through it" and Gus was the biggest duck in the puddle with Lije, meaning that they drank and partied the money away. According to Robert LeRoy Keylon, Lije was a Baptist preacher who told his congregation, don’t live as I do. 

Bea added, "You needn't think we got any rest when Gaither, Gus and Ted threw a party. You could always tell when Gaither was drinking because he was funny, carried on and told everything he knew. 

Bernice Thomson says, around 1933 Gaither, Gus and Ted lived in Bayless'  "Green House" on Hwy. 68 in McMinn Co., TN,  Bayless having died March 29, 1923 and his wife Rachel Oct. 29,  1909.  

Bernice relates the following story which occurred at the time the Billings men lived at the Green House. I loved to play tricks on anyone, so me and Lavery Henry made a lifelike dummy of straw which looked almost like a real man. One evening as the Billings men were eating supper, I crept silently into the bedroom and placed the dummy at the foot of the bed. 

By this time it was almost dark and there was very little light in the bedroom. I hid nearby to watch the events unfold.  Gaither came in first and, glimpsing what he thought was a visitor on the bed, simply said "how do you do.  Receiving no answer, Gaither quickly figured something as going on at which point I came out of hiding and asked for Gaither's cooperation in my prank. 

Gus came in next and though I can’t recall exactly what Gus said, he was pretty "stirred up at having a prank pulled on him. Gus had to leave to go somewhere in his car. 

Knowing that I already had Gus pretty "stirred up, I decided the time was ripe to aggravate him a little more and really "get his Goat." Me and Lavery positioned the straw man dummy near the Billings' second automobile in such a way that it appeared to be someone stealing the wheel off the car. 

Though he never admitted it to anyone for the rest of his life, Gus flew into a rage when he returned home and saw what he thought was someone stealing the wheel off his car, right there by the house! 

In his rage Gus attacked the straw man, whereupon, he soon realized I had fooled him a second time in the same day and then he became even madder and tore the straw man to shreds. After he realized what a good laugh I would have at his expense, he carefully picked up all the pieces of the straw man and hid them under the porch, hoping to avoid me ribbing him the next day. 

Bernice says "we hunted and hunted for that dummy before finally finding it where Gus had stuffed it under the porch.  Bernice says, I never did say a thing about the incident to Gus.  Knowing Bernice’s love of fun it is safe to say Gus never heard the last of the Straw Man.

Bill Kyle says, It was around 1934/35 that Gus and Ted Billings owned a service station in Athens. Entering Athens on Hwy. 11 and after passing only a few houses the station was on the left side of the highway near a present day hotel. At that time there was a Dodge automobile dealership across the road from the station. Gus and Ted had the Mayfield Dairy account and Ted was seeing Zelda Newton. Gus sold me his share of the station around 1935/36. 

Around 1934/35 Gaither and Gus lived on the old Hackler place near the Barnard farm.  The Hackler place was then owned by Bill Kyle’s Father, according to Bill Kyle who was Gaither and Gus’ neighbor at the time.  

The Hackler Farm was reached by turning left off South bound Hwy. 58 onto Old TN Mile Rd. in Ten Mile near the Meigs/ Roane Co., TN line. Travel Old Ten Mile Rd. for about 400 yds. until reaching the first curve. At the curve look to the left and you will see the overgrown road bed of the old Ten Mile Rd. which continued on to Kingston at one time. Travel this old road bed about 450 yds. North and the Billings home on the Hackler place was somewhere at this point, according to James Keylon. 

Gaither and Gus had bought timber rights and had set the sawmill up on the old Barnard place nearby. Bill Kyle says his Father loaned Gaither’s brother, Bayless Winslow Billings Jr., money to buy the old Barnard farm that belonged to the parents of  Winslow’s wife, Cora Barnard. Bill said, When Dad loaned the money to Winslow, Dad told Winslow, now don’t get mad, I’ll have to ask for this money back one of these days. Gaither may have made a favorable deal when he bought the timber because either his brother owned the timber or was married to the woman whose parents owned the timber. 

Bill Kyle says, when Gaither and Gus lived on the Old Hackler place, me, my little brother and one of our buddies planned to steal a watermelon out of the Billings' watermelon patch. I let Gus in on the scheme and together we planned to scare the pants off my brother and the other boy. 

Having "hatched" the plot with Gus, I innocently returned home. That evening after it got dark, I led the unsuspecting boys into the waiting trap.  Gus had hidden in the thick woods armed with his double barreled shotgun. I remained behind as my little brother and the other boy crossed the fence into the watermelon patch. 

Just as the last boy entered the patch Gus screamed out at the top of his lungs and fired both barrels of his shotgun at the same time. Our buddy made a fast U turn and literally dove through the barbed wire fence and ran at top speed for the cover of the deep woods. My little brother was scared completely out of his mind and could only manage to scream, “don’t shoot, don’t shoot” over and over as he ran in small circles through the watermelon patch, trampling everything in his path. 

Estella Stell Billings Yates was the daughter of Bayless Winslow Jr. and Cora Barnard Billings. Stell said, When Gus had his sawmill on Dad’s place he had accumulated a very large slab pile which Dad had asked Gus over and over to burn and get rid of. Gus never got around to it so one day Dad decided to burn the slab pile. The fire got out of hand and burned Gus sawmill to the ground along with the slabs. 

It was probably around 193 when twenty six year old Gus met Ellen Irene Keylon, a fifteen-year-old beauty from Ten Mile, TN. Ellen was the daughter of James Loon and Katherine Melissa Sensaboy Keylon of Ten Mile. Irene dropped out of school during her freshman year of high school in 1936 to elope with Augustus Evans Billings. They were married Oct. 03, 1936 in Rossville, Walker Co., GA 

 Pearl Blair Creasman said, one day back around 1935 I was in Athens when I ran into Gus on the street, he said he wanted to talk to me, somewhere in privacy. I suggested stepping into one of the nearby stores since it was raining.  Gus said, I have my car here lets sit in it. The car was red and probably a convertible because it had side curtains to keep the rain out. Gus started to pour his heart out about how much he loved Irene and wanted to marry her but was worried about their eleven-year age difference. I just told him age doesn’t matter if you really love her. 

Zelda Newton Billings recalled, Gus and Irene had been married for a while when I began working for the phone company in Jan. 1937. At the time Ted and I lived in Powell, TN near Knoxville.  Walker Co., GA marriage records indicate Gus and Irene were married there on Oct. 3, 1936. Gus gave his age as twenty six; Irene gave hers as twenty one although she was actually fifteen. Jewell Keylon says Gus and Irene eloped.  

Irene’s Mother, Katherine Sensaboy Keylon, said of Gus and Irene’s age difference, well I’m glad at least one of them (Gus) is old enough to have some sense. 

Bertie Sensaboy Reed said, Katherine (Irene’s Mother) kept a loaded pistol hanging on her bedroom wall.  Gus later commented after his courtship and marriage to Irene, I always felt uneasy about that pistol.  Bertie said, I always liked Gus, he was a good man. 

Irene contracted pneumonia and nearly died at the age of three or four, says Irene’s older brother, James Marion Keylon. Mom nursed Irene back to health without benefit of a doctor. Our brother, Harold, had died four years earlier. 

James continued, When she was a young girl Irene was pretty wild. When she was fourteen she would hide notes to a young timber cutter. He crossed our property on his way to work and would look for his notes under a rock.  

Once when we were walking home, I had to chase the timber cutter off with a pistol when he stopped to pick Irene up. Another time we were at a party and Irene wanted to leave with this guy but I made her get in our car and took her home. 

Bea Hair Keylon recalled, Irene and my sister, Nell Ruth Hair, used to slip off down behind Ten Mile elementary school to smoke when they were in the fifth or sixth grade. Even though they hid behind a big fallen tree, they were easy to spot. Mrs. Emma Ewing, the principal, could easily see their brightly colored tams (caps). The tams stood out like beacons in the night. 

Bertie Reed says, Around 1936 Gus and Irene moved into their first home, which was a house on Kate Keylon’s farm. The house was located on the left side of Northbound Hwy. 58 at the Northern boundary of the Keylon farm. The flu in the kitchen was a hazardous affair and Gus always told Irene that if the house ever caught fire to get out and not even try to save anything.  

One day while Irene was cooking, the house caught fire. Irene ran to her vehicle and drove about a mile and a half South on 58 to Huff’s store to get help. By the time they got back to the house, saving anything was hopeless. Even though it was summer, Gus had to butcher their hog which was badly burned because the hog pen was so near their house. Gus and Irene may have lived with Kate for a while after that. 

According to Trusty Sherman of Ten Mile, Gus and Irene had a pet pig when they lived as his neighbors somewhere in the vicinity of the intersection of Hwy. 58 and Ten Mile Rd. One day the pig came over to Trusty’s home, knocked over his family’s bee hive and ate all the honey.  

Billy Thompson said, Around 1939 Gus and Irene lived on Clearwater Rd. in Meigs Co., TN. The house where Gus and Irene lived on Clearwater Rd. has been torn down and replaced by a white frame house which sits a bit further back off the road than Gus and Irene’s home was. There is an old shade tree in front of the new house and Gus; hose stood directly behind this tree as you look from the road. 

Gus and Irene’s next home was on the left of Southbound Hwy. 58 in Ten Mile about one quarter mile south of the intersection of Ten Mile Rd. with Hwy. 58 where they probably began living here about 1940/41.  

The only vehicle Gus owned at this time was a one ton flat bed lumber truck which he often drove home loaded with logs or lumber. This writer’s first memories are of things which occurred while living here as a baby. There are distinct memories of lying in my baby bed with a gauze insect screen over it, a toy train, walks with Grandfather Gaither Billings along the creek in the field behind our house, an entire stalk of bananas that Gus once brought home and convicts in stripped prison uniforms working on Hwy. 58 in front of our house. 

Gus and Irene next moved to the Legg farm in Ten Mile where they lived in half of Mrs. Legg’s home while she occupied the other half. Driving toward Watts Bar Lake the Legg home was on the left on Ten mile Rd. about one half mile toward Watt’s Bar lake from Hwy. 58. 

It was while living at the Legg home June 23, 1943, that Gus barely got Irene to Sweetwater hospital in time for the delivery of her twins.  Douglas Evan and Linda Sharon Billings were born only twenty minutes after Irene’s arrival at the hospital, according to their TN birth certificates. This writer recalls that Irene and the twins were brought home in an ambulance which must have been rare in those days, rare to me at least for it was the first ambulance I’d ever seen. 

About 1944 Gus moved his family to a house he rented from Earl Bostic.  Earl’s farm and the house were reached by turning right off Northbound Hwy. 58 one mile north of the intersection of 58 and Ten Mile Rd. After turning right travel straight and after crossing old Hwy. 58 continue about 200 yds. up a slight hill to a frame house on the right. There was no water or electricity here; kerosene lamps provided light at night. We carried water from Earl Bostic’s well at his house by old Hwy. 58, where the road to our house crossed.  Gilmer Massey said the Bostic house is so old, they found arrowheads embedded in the log walls while doing a remodeling job. Gilmer was Earl’s nephew and lived with Earl as a young man. 

Conditions at the Bostic place were the same as they had been in all Gus’ previous homes except that it had never been necessary to carry water before. We used wood burning stoves for cooking and heating and kerosene lamps for light. When one of us had a bad cold Gus would rub raw onion on the side of the stove saying the smell would break up the cold. The rank smell of onions permeated the house for days afterward. 

Gilmer Massey knew Gus well since Gilmer was living nearby with his Uncle Earl Bostic. Gilmer said, I really liked Gus, he treated me like a son.  Around 1944/45 Gus bought a new Jeep, he was tickled to with that lil ole Jeep. We were coming back from Kingston once and there at Kimbal’s on Hwy. 58 was a panel delivery truck turned over on its side. The driver was waiting for a wrecker to get the panel truck off the road. Gus told the driver, if you want I can move it. The driver didn’t think Gus’ lil ole Jeep could do the job, but said go ahead and try. Gus hooked his Jeep to the panel truck and not only moved it but turned the panel truck back up on its wheels. 

Gilmer continued, when Gus had his Jeep he came by one day when I was working a 25-acre piece of ground with horses pulling a cutting harrow and after that I’d use a drag harrow. Gus drove out to where I was working and said, let’s hook this Jeep to that thing (harrow.) I was going to ride the harrow so my weight would hold it down. 

Aw! He got it up to twenty miles an hour and I couldn’t see the Jeep for the dust! It tickled him to death when he got the dust stirring but I got kindly uneasy! When Gus finally stopped he was laughing so hard he could hardly talk. When he finally stopped laughing and regained his breath he finally managed to say, dusted you out didn’t I? 

According to Meigs Co. Deed book Q, pgs.467 & 501 Gus purchased forty acres of land from Fred and Salle Reed. This land adjoined the Katherine Keylon farm in Ten Mile, on the N. W. 

Gilmer said Gus had planned to build a house on the new ground which was his 40-acre property. James Keylon also said Gus’ new ground adjoined Katherine Keylon’s farm at the North West boundary. 

This writer can recall, as a six year old, going with Gus to the new ground to set out fruit trees. He would first locate water then set a tree at each location.  The water was located by means of a divining rod, which was a Y shaped branch of a certain type of tree. Gus would hold one prong of the upper end of the Y in each hand at waist level, with the single lower leg of the Y out in front of him and parallel to the ground. He would then walk across the property until an unseen force pulled the straight end of the Y toward the ground indicating he had located water. .

It was while living at the Bostic place that Gus and Irene began to quarrel, the end result being a separation and Irene taking her children, Wayne, Douglas and Linda back to her Mother’s to live. Zelda Newton described Gus’ temperament as, wonderful to live with one day and then blow up for no reason the next. 

This writer’s childhood memories of Gus are of an exceptionally kind man who spoiled me with toys and held me on his lap as I drove his prized Jeep across rough fields. On cold winter nights Gus would warm the blanket from my bed by holding it up to the stove and then tuck me in with it. 

The only spanking Gus ever gave this writer was when we met some of his friends while driving on Black Ankle Rd. road one day. Gus stopped his truck and went over to talk to them, soon he told me to get out of the truck and come over to him so the men could see how much I’d grown. Being bashful, I refused and got a good wearing out. 

Around 1945, when Gus and Irene separated, Gaither moved back in with Gus and the two men batched, and continued saw milling as they always had done. I was allowed to spend some time with Gus and Gaither. The once clean beds were now full of sawdust since neither man was too concerned with house keeping. This wasn't destined to continue for Gus died on May 23rd 1946.  He was buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Athens, McMinn Co., TN.  

According to Theodore D. Billings’ wife, Zelda Newton Billings, Gus’ doctor, at Epperson hospital in Athens, TN, told Theodore that he had been treating Gus for typhoid fever and if he had known earlier Gus had food poisoning he could have saved Gus’ life. Jewell Keylon McNamara says gus was treated for tick fever at a hospital in Chattanooga, TN and died there but Gus’ death certificate indicates he died in Athens, TN of typhoid fever. 

Following Gus’ death, Irene worked for the Department of Defense in Oak Ridge, TN. Later while visiting her sister, Jewel Ceylon Cappola, in Detroit, MI, Irene met Theodore Roosevelt Swing. They were married around 1947 or 1948. Irene and Ted had two children, Juanita May born July 20, 1948 and Theodore Roosevelt Jr. born Jan. 26, 1950 in Rockwood, Roane County, TN. 

May 19, 1955, Meigs Co. TN Deed Book U, Pg. 546 & 554. Irene Billings Swing sells Gus Billings’ forty acre New Ground to J. A. and Charles J. Haggler. 

Around 1956 Irene’s marriage to Ted Swing failed, Irene attempted raising her children alone. When she became ill and was hospitalized, Douglas was sent to live with Ted Billings in Charleston, TN. Linda went to live with Jewel Ceylon Cappola in Detroit, MI. Theodore Jr. and Juanita were returned to Theodore Swing Sr. in Ft. Myers FL. 

Doctors had told Irene her headaches were the result of her sinus problems. She became ill again in 1971 and died of brain cancer on Sept. 3, 1971 in a Ft. Lauderdale, FL hospital. Irene was buried beside Gus Billings in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Athens, McMinn County, TN. 

 © All Rights Reserved, Wayne Paul Billings

Compiled and written by Wayne Paul Billings, son of Augustus Evans and Ellen Irene Keylon Billings Oct.12, 1997, updated Dec. 2004. Proofed with Word. 

Sent to: Sandy, Tonya, Jane, Nelson, Roane & Loudon USGenWeb, Barbara Billings website @ My Family.Com, Meigs USGenWeb


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